Bega Valley’s firefighting specialists deployed to Canadian wildfires

Bega Valley firefighters are among a 100-strong taskforce  touching down in Canada this week to assist with bushfires raging in British Columbia.

The deployment of 100 personnel is made up of 40 representatives from the NSW Rural Fire Service, 30 from National Parks, 25 from ACTRFS and five from Forestry Corporation NSW.

They will join a team of 78 already in Canada as part of a long-standing agreement between British Columbia and Australia to share firefighting resources.

Among the contingent are Bega’s Garry Cooper, David Philp from Brogo and Patrick Waddell from Bermagui, all with the RFS, while Eden Forestry firefighter Amba Addinsall is also adding to the boots on the ground.

The region of Canada the team is being tasked to is seeing “unprecedented weather conditions” with more than 3000 wildfires breaking out in only the past month and a half.

Far South Coast Superintendent John Cullen said he was proud of his team members and their inclusion in the specialist taskforce was an indication of how well their expertise is regarded and respected.

Minister for Emergency Services Troy Grant farewelled many of the team at the airport, saying  “our firefighters are ready to answer the call to help others, even if that means travelling across the globe”.

“The firefighters we are sending across in this placement are specialists,” Mr Grant said.

“They are highly trained, fit and have experience dealing with arduous isolated conditions. This is recognition of the high regard in which our firefighters are held internationally and it is a testament to their training and professionalism.”

Meanwhile, Superintendent Cullen said conditions in the Bega Valley and Eurobodalla remain challenging with numerous frosts and a dry winter contributing to a “big bulk of dry grass” across the district.

“We ask people to be very careful, plan and be well resourced before attempting any burns,” he said.

“This time of year the weather can be unpredictable, there’s a lot of cured lovegrass around and it’s a traditionally windy time of year.

“We will continue to try to complete hazard reductions when safe and we encourage property owners to continue working to prepare their land and reduce fuel loads – but to exercise caution.”

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