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Three Great Southern firefighters part of latest WA resource deployment to help battle Canadian bushfires

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Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
The WA firefighters and fire management specialists are bound for Canada.
Camera IconThe WA firefighters and fire management specialists are bound for Canada. Credit: DFES

Three Great Southern firefighters are part of a WA deployment that has travelled to Canada to assist with the most destructive wildfire season that the nation has recorded.

Mt Barker Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service pair Kevin Bransby and Kathleen Western along with Albany Volunteer Fire and Rescue’s Rob Daniels flew out from Perth last week as part of a 29-strong team headed for Canada.

The WA contingent of 15 volunteer firefighters from Perth, Lancelin, Gingin, Albany and Mount Barker and five Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions Parks and Wildlife Service staff will join frontline firefighting efforts around Alberta.

Two Department of Fire and Emergency Services staff and seven DBCA personnel will also lend their skills in complex incident management functions such as public information, sector command, fire behaviour analysis and heavy equipment co-ordination.

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Since May, WA has sent 50 people to Canada and about half have returned home after spending four weeks in Alberta and British Columbia.

Australian and New Zealand fire agencies have deployed more than 550 personnel to, joining reinforcements from around the world to support their Canadian counterparts.

The deployments are co-ordinated by AFAC’s National Resource Sharing Centre.

About 9.4 million hectares have burnt across Canada so far this year, more than three times the size of land burnt by bushfires in WA in the last year.

WA Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm said the area burnt was equivalent to an area 1½ times the size of Tasmania.

“WA personnel will make a huge difference, relieving exhausted local crews on the frontline and providing their expertise in managing complex fires in difficult terrain,” he said.

“I thank all 79 personnel who put up their hand to help their international counterparts and protect lives and homes under threat by hundreds of out-of-control fires.

“The contingent of volunteers have also undergone strenuous fitness and medical testing to prepare them for arduous firefighting in Canada’s mountainous terrain and will bring a wealth of experience from regional WA.”

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