Western Australia will join a scheme to establish national practices, standards and training for fighting forest fires in Australia and New Zealand.
Forest Products Minister Paul Omodei agreed to the plan at a Forestry Ministers’ Conference in Canberra today.
Mr Omodei said that Commonwealth Minister Wilson Tuckey and all States and Territories had agreed to the proposal which had been given considerable impetus by the experience in the United States in August and September.
Nearly 100 Australian and New Zealand fire fighters were called on to help combat massive forest fires in the US.
“The fact that they were given command roles in the US is a fair sort of compliment to their ability, but it has also highlighted the need for national standards in training, fitness, equipment, and safety gear,” the Minister said.
“This approach will improve our ability to help one another in Australia and New Zealand as well as giving us greater flexibility if we are called on to help in other conflagrations overseas.”
Mr Omodei said the American experience had also emphasised the importance of gaining community support for hazard reduction and controlled burns in the natural environment.
“Without regular fire, many forest ecosystems suffer declining health, increasing the risk that when fire occurs it is catastrophic to the whole ecosystem as well as the human communities living nearby,” he said.
“Our foresters have done a great job in protecting our forests, but there needs to be continued community support for their balanced approach to their work.”
Media contact: Hugh Ryan 9213 6700