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Victorian firefighter Scott Falconer deployed to assist in Canadian firefight

21 June 2023

Pictured above: Scott Falconer (third from left) with his FFMVic colleagues

Scott Falconer is one of 92 Victorians currently deployed to Canada to assist in fighting their unprecedented wildfires, in what is fast becoming one of the worst fire seasons the country has ever seen. He is part of the 409-strong contingent of Australian emergency services personnel working alongside local crews.

Over 400 fires are currently burning across Alberta and British Columbia.  

“The scale is phenomenal. More than 3.3 million hectares have already been burnt by these fires, which is 13 times the ten-year average. It’s a similar scale to what we saw during Black Saturday,” Scott said.

In his usual role, Scott works as Director of Forest and Fire Operations and Deputy Chief Fire Officer for Loddon Mallee at Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic). He travelled to Canada to take on the role as Liaison Officer for a month-long deployment.

Scott’s role is critical in feeding back important information to the State Control Centre in Victoria, as well as ensuring our crews are well supported during their deployment – “my role is to ensure our staff are where they need to be and we’ve got the right people doing the right role, whilst also looking after their welfare – ensuring the safety of our people is paramount,” he said.  

“I’m also focused on keeping morale high and ensuring this is a brilliant experience for everyone, so we can take all these learnings back to Australia.”

Scott and his team are proud to be a part of an international effort to assist Canada during this challenging time.

“There’s a real international feel here - there are people from all around the world who have come to help. It feels wonderful to be part of a concerted effort, particularly when the Canadians came to Australia during Black Saturday and many of us worked with them,” he explained.  


Scott is looking after 121 personnel from Australia and New Zealand, 49 of whom are from Victoria. His team is positioned in a remote part of northern Alberta, near High Level, where they are surrounded by forest.

Crews are positioned in two different forest zones, of which Scott looks after the most northerly areas, where he has seen bears, wolves, moose, beavers and even bison, as he described as “living in a David Attenborough documentary.”

“Our personnel consist of people with Incident Management Team expertise and arduous strike teams - who are fit, strong firefighters out there on foot with mostly hand tools,” he said.

Staff are working long hours to help Canadian firefighters protect their communities, and for those out in the field, it’s physically demanding.

“I’ve been travelling 300km a day to get to High Level to provide support, ensuring everyone is OK and taking care of any welfare issues,” he said.

“Infrastructure and communities are threatened by these fires. Where we are, communities are fairly small, but there are a lot of First Nations communities. Our Incident Management Team is working with their Chiefs to make sure they are safe and that we’re getting them back in their communities.”

Although the fires are different to what we see in Victoria, some of the tactics remain the same.

“Our back-burning skills have been really well received over here. We are making good headway on the fires where we are. The strategy is not to put out every fire, but to control the fires so they are not a threat to life and property.”

Despite the challenges, the commitment of our deployed crews is evident and appreciated by locals.

“Our dedicated personnel are getting on with the task at hand. This is a marathon, not a sprint,” Scott said.

One Canadian local expressed his appreciation for our firefighters: “As a local resident, I’m honoured to have them on the ground fighting this fire, and happy to have the opportunity to work with a team of professional, upbeat and hardworking people.”

This weekend, a third deployment of 23 Victorian emergency services personnel will fly from Melbourne to further support the ongoing fire response, bringing the total of Victorians deployed to Canada to 115.

Scott and his colleagues from the first Victorian contingent will head home to Australia at the end of the month.