Firefighters step in to help Canadians

DEPLOYED: Mount Gambier CFS firefighter Justin Cook will be deployed to Canada today to help battle 450 wildfires in British Columbia.

MOUNT Gambier firefighter Justin Cook will be deployed to Canada today to help battle more than 450 wildfires in the British Columbia district.

The Country Fire Service firefighter from the 141 Forestry Brigade will be among staff from the CFS and Department for Environment and Water (DEW) to fill one-third of the required aviation and incident management team specialists from Australia’s southern hub.

At this stage, Canada has requested a small team from Australia and New Zealand, with experience in the management of large scale and complex fires sought.

Mr Cook will act as a planning officer and develop strategic and tactical plans for fighting fires for up to 12 hours in advance.

He will be deployed with CFS state headquarters staff member Amy Riebe and DEW fire and flood operations manager Sam Sanderson.

They will fill public information and ignition specialist roles respectively.

“In the lead-up to our own fire danger season, we are pleased to be able to help by offering another two of our small team of staff to aid international partners in crisis,” SA CFS assistant chief officer Daniel Austin said.

“Fires do not know boundaries or borders and as a firefighting service we are ready to respond both within Australia and overseas.”

DEW fire and flood management director Fiona Gill said Mr Sanderson had been instrumental in developing air ignition capabilities for DEW since its inception.

“These skills are vital in the back burning operations used in large wildfire situations, where lighting up areas from the air can create strategic breaks in the fuel and limit the spread and impact of a fire,” Ms Gill explained.

The three members will depart Adelaide at 11am today for Canada, with the initial deployment proposed for 21 days.