In a tweet Tuesday afternoon. Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said Canada will be deploying additional fire management personnel to Australia to help fight the country’s devastating wildfires
“In response to a request from our Australian friends, Canada will deploy 69 additional fire management personnel to help with the devastating fires that continue to ravage Australia,” he said on Twitter. “We are all proud of their efforts.”
The role of the Canadian fire management personnel in Australia is not solely restricted to firefighters. Personnel perform a variety of functions, like crew assignments, fire behaviour analysis, coordination of aerial attack, and logistics.
In a statement, the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC) said they were responding to a request from the National Resource Sharing Centre in Melbourne for help in the state of Victoria.
They said 27 Canadian firefighter personnel will be deployed on Thursday, and will be joined by an additional 40 firefighters and two incident management personnel on Sunday.
Their deployments will be for a duration of 31 days each, the statement read. They noted the first deployment of Canadians that left Dec. 3, has now returned home.
“Canada has called on Australian firefighting personnel in 2015, 2017, and 2018 and we are proud to now reciprocate by providing support to them during this devastating fire season,” said the CIFFC.
They said management staff would be deployed from British Colombia, Northwest Territories, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Parks Canada.
Natural Resources Canada said on their website that the country has a formal arrangement with Australia that allows both countries to exchange firefighting resources in times of need. This will be the sixth time this winter that Canadian wildland fire personnel have been deployed to Australia under the agreement.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was quick to echo the CIFFC’s statement. In a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week, Trudeau said he recalled Australia’s “past generous assistance” to Canadian firefighters when wildfires spread through Canadian communities.
Nearly 100 Canadian firefighters and experts have been sent to Australia to help battle the fires since they began raging in September.
Australia is experiencing one of its worst bushfire seasons on record. To date, it has claimed the lives of 28 people, destroying more than 2,500 homes and over eight million hectares of land — an area larger than the province of Nova Scotia. Researchers estimate over one billion mammals, birds and reptiles have been affected by the wildfire since September.
— With files from Hannah Jackson.