Merimbula firefighter helping with Canadian fires

Local NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Senior Field Supervisor Simon Conaty has flown to Canada to help battle the hundreds of bushfires burning over a staggering 1.5 million hectares in British Columbia.

Large active fire high flames in forest at night NPWS vehicle patrol

Merimbula-based Simon left Sydney last week as part of a specialist firefighting team to help relieve local crews over the next 40 days.

NPWS South Coast Branch Director Kane Weeks said Simon is one of 34 NPWS specialist firefighters currently engaged in the firefighting effort in Canada.

“These staff come from all over the state, making up the largest overseas deployment of NPWS firefighters to date,” Mr Weeks said.

“Simon is a very experienced and skilled remote area firefighter and has been tasked to lead a crew in British Columbia.

“A lot of our local firefighting is done in remote terrain - it takes a high level of physical fitness and a good understanding of fire behaviour, crew and machinery capability.

“Simon’s skills and experience are exactly what the Canadians are seeking most urgently with many of the fires occurring in the remote rugged regions of British Columbia.

“Simon’s tour is expected to include two shifts, both 14 days long with only two days’ rest in between.

“The work is expected to be hard and it is a long time to be away from family and friends.

“I am sure Simon will represent our local community and NPWS to the highest standard. We wish him well and a safe return,” Mr Weeks said.

The NPWS firefighters are deployed under the NSW cooperative firefighting arrangements, with NSW Rural Fire Service, Fire and Rescue NSW and the Forestry Corporation of NSW.

British Columbia’s arrangement with Australia in sharing firefighting resources has been in place for over 15 years.

This agreement allows for the exchange of personnel, knowledge, skills, equipment, technology and mutual support in the event of an emergency.

NSW RFS is coordinating the deployment of up to 100 firefighters to Canada on behalf of NSW and the ACT.

Photos for media: Flickr: NPWS Canada deployment