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WA firefighters US bound
Tuesday 25 August 2015 – 9:45 AM

Eight Western Australian firefighters recently travelled to the United States to help fight bushfires burning across the western part of the country.

Four Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) and four Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) joined a contingent of 71 firefighters from across Australia and New Zealand that left Sydney bound for Idaho on the weekend.

They are joining DFES Assistant Commissioner Chris Arnol, who left for the US last week in preparation for the contingents’ arrival.
 
Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis said there were currently almost 100 uncontained bushfires burning across the US.
 
"The Australian and New Zealand contingent will be deployed to California, Oregon and Washington State, with WA providing one air-based and three field-based officers from each department," Mr Francis said. 
 
"Our Western Australian firefighters are highly skilled and experienced in fighting forest fires from the air and on the ground, which will be invaluable in helping the US counterparts.
 
"Our personnel will serve as helicopter managers, division supervisors and taskforce leaders to help relieve exhausted local fire crews and help protect communities under extreme threat."
 
So far this year fires in the US have burnt through more than 2.9 million hectares and there are more than 25,000 personnel currently fighting bushfires.
 
This latest deployment follows on from a recent deployment to Canada for WA firefighters, which saw seven personnel from DFES and five from DPaW join an Australian contingent assisting in British Columbia and Alberta in July and August.
 
Operations Deputy Commissioner Lloyd Bailey said overseas deployments are a great opportunity for firefighters to gain valuable experience.
 
“As well as providing much needed help to the US and Canada during their bushfire season, they are also gaining exposure to different environments and ways of doing things,” Deputy Commissioner Bailey said.
 
“This valuable knowledge can then be used to benefit the WA community during our own bushfire season.”