Richard Court

Richard Court


    Premier welcomes CALM firefighters home from US

    20/09/2000 12:00 PM

    Six Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) firefighters stepped back on to Australian soil today after tackling one of the United States’ biggest wildfires.

    They were officially welcomed at the Perth Domestic Airport this morning by their families and colleagues as well as Premier Richard Court, Environment Minister Cheryl Edwardes and the Consul-General of the United States of America in Western Australia, Sallybeth Bumbrey.

    The six men were part of an 82-strong Australian and New Zealand contingent which spent five weeks managing the worst United States forest fires in 50 years.

    Mr Court said the returning CALM fire officers - Terry Maher, Kevin White and Roger Armstrong from Bunbury; Kevin Haylock from Harvey, Greg Mair from Walpole and Dr Lachie McCaw from Manjimup - were based in one of the worst-hit areas in north-west Montana.

    Western Australia’s most qualified fire controller, CALM’s fire manager Rick Sneeuwjagt, was also called in to help co-ordinate the fightfighting. He will return to Perth later this week.

    “The uncontrolled fires raged across 13 States, burned more than 2.7 million hectares of forests and tragically killed 11 people,” Mr Court said.

    “Most of us can only imagine the difficult and harsh conditions our CALM firefighters had to work in, and we all hope they never have to face a similar scenario here in WA.

    “The six men have shown the utmost dedication and commitment to their jobs in a difficult call of duty and we are very proud of their efforts.”

    Environment Minister Cheryl Edwardes said the knowledge gained and lessons learned during the United States fires would be passed on and that WA would be all the better for the experience.

    “These firefighters will pass on their knowledge to CALM and other fire crews so that we learn how to avoid the build up of fuels and forest conditions that led to the US fires,” Mrs Edwardes said.

    She thanked the six men for their dedication and professionalism, and their families, friends and colleagues who supported them.

    Media contact: Justine Whittome 9222 9475