Western Australia will send front-line fire crews and sector commanders to help Victorian firefighters who have been battling bushfires across that State for the past seven weeks.
Environment and Climate Change Minister Tony McRae and Emergency Services Minister John Kobelke said a joint contingent from the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) and the Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA) would fly to Victoria next week.
This is the first time that DEC has sent front-line crews to help in another State, although FESA firefighters were deployed to a previous bush fire emergency in New South Wales.
Over the past several years, fire managers have also provided assistance elsewhere in Australia and in the United States.
Last month, DEC, Forest Products Commission and FESA sent two contingents of incident management team leaders to help in Victoria.
“The request for front-line crews indicates the magnitude of the problem in Victoria and the consequent issue of managing fatigue among fire crews,” Mr McRae said.
WA was responding to a special request from the Australasian Fire Authorities Council, on behalf of the Victorian fire and land management agencies, for forest firefighters to help in Victoria.
Mr McRae said DEC anticipated a contribution of 16 staff, including 12 front-line crew.
“Firefighters from both departments will work on a weekly rotational basis for as long as the Victorians need assistance,” he said.
“WA has 280 DEC front-line fire staff and FESA has 20,000 volunteers and 1,000 career firefighters to cope with our own fire season.”
Mr Kobelke said the 20-strong FESA contingent, comprising volunteer and career firefighters, would help in the enormous battle Victorian firefighters faced.
“FESA members have volunteered to help, and they along with DEC staff should be commended for their continued generosity in putting public safety first,” he said.
WA fire managers and volunteers who have participated in previous deployments in other jurisdictions reported significant benefit from the experience and returned with enhanced skills and suggestions for improved procedures.
Minister for the Environment's office - 9213 7150
Minister for Emergency Services office - 9222 9211