New Zealand High Commission Canberra, Australia

New Zealand Firefighters Head To Victoria

Press Release by National Rural Fire Authority at 3:04PM, 13 Feb 2013.

A fresh wave of New Zealand firefighters leaves tomorrow to help fight the bushfires that have extended firefighting resources in remote areas of Victoria.

National Rural Fire Officer Murray Dudfield said the team of 44 will be New Zealand’s second-largest deployment of rural firefighters. The largest, 109 firefighters, was deployed to Victoria in 2009.

“The forest and land management firefighters in Victoria are feeling the strain of almost two months of hard, hot, difficult work. Our guys are fresh and raring to go and will help give the locals a break. The team has been chosen for their fitness, chainsaw and controlled burning skills along with their ability to live out in the open,” said Mr Dudfield.

Over their 16 day deployment, the New Zealanders will continue the work to contain the large bushfires burning in the Gippsland area.

The team is made up of the National Rural Authority New Zealand liaison officer, Kerry Hilliard, a taskforce leader, two sector supervisors, and 40 rural firefighters of which half are from the Department of Conservation and half from the forestry sector.

They have been chosen from areas in New Zealand that are unlikely to face a fire risk within the next few weeks. The team is expected to be away for 16 days and will be based in Gippsland.

In January 13 firefighters were sent to help fight bushfires in remote areas of Tasmania.

“This deployment is a reflection of the strong relationship New Zealand fire authorities have built with their Australian counterparts over the years to share training, knowledge, and research and provide assistance to each other when needed,” he said.

Background: Rural firefighters are not New Zealand Fire Service personnel. They are generally Department of Conservation forestry personnel, or rural people, who volunteer and train as a rural fire fighting force

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