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‘Still so much work to be done’: Victorians making a big difference in fighting Canada fires

25 June 2023

Pictured above: Incident controller Peter Brick address the group of Victorians in Alberta, Canada.

It has been almost a month since the first of the Australian crews travelled to Canada to lend their support to controlling the wildfires in Alberta, and Incident Controller Peter Brick could not be more proud. 

He is part of a group based in the far north of the province, which is managing three of the 422 active fires burning across Canada. 

“We are making a real difference over here. The local staff have been on the go for weeks and our arrival has allowed some to have their first days off in many weeks,” Peter said. 

“This is an important firefighting deployment to supplement local Alberta Wildfire resources.”

In his day job, Peter is a Senior Emergency Management Capability Specialist for Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) and has been part of battling many big fire campaigns, including the 2019-20 Victorian bushfires. 


He said the current conditions remind him of what it was like during the fires at Swifts Creek during that time – he has even come across some Canadian and American firefighters who travelled to Australia to help with that very fire. 

The team’s expertise in managing large scale campaign bushfires in Victoria has been an advantage. 

“Canada and Australia use very similar techniques and emergency management systems. The team is doing an amazing job with very limited resources,” Peter said. 

“The CFA and FFMVic Incident Management Team and crew are able to transition into the Canadian system very easily. It’s a real credit to the skill and experience of our staff.” 

The Victorians are part of an Australia-wide contingent helping in Canada and Peter’s team also include representatives from NSW National Parks Service, NSW Forestry Corporation and NSW Rural Fire Service. 

It is the connection and trust built with local First Nations communities that has proved most rewarding for many people in the group. 

“They are so incredibly grateful of the work our team has done in keeping them informed and protecting their communities. We also facilitated the return of people to the local settlement,” Peter said.  

The team at Rainbow Lake have been managing a complex of fires spread over many hundreds of kilometres. Crews are based out of three different camps.  

But as more Victorians fly over to take their turn in helping battle the wildfires, it will soon be time for Peter and his team to return to their families and the comfort of home. 

“After five weeks here we all feel like locals, we have been made to feel very welcome here and it will be hard to step away when there is still so much work to be done, however equally everyone is looking forward to getting home and seeing family and friends,” he said.