19 February 2019
New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) firefighters helping control the bushfires raging in Tasmania have been praised for their hard work by residents and local fire crews.
The NZDF firefighters left for Tasmania on 7 February and have been working in a steep and remote area near Geeveston, a town 62 kilometres southwest of Hobart.
They are part of a Fire and Emergency New Zealand team assisting about 500 firefighters from Tasmania Fire Service and other parts of Australia.
New Zealand Army Corporal Karl Mouldey, who is leading the five-member NZDF team, said a typical workday lasted about 12 hours, starting at 7am.
After receiving their tasks for the day, the firefighters drive about 20 minutes to their assigned area and climb about 400 metres uphill to reach the fire ground.
Last week they tackled hotspots at a eucalyptus plantation, where the bush fires left charred tree trunks and scorched ground.
“We are constantly being stopped by locals and thanked for our efforts,” Corporal Mouldey said. “The New Zealand detachment has also received high praise from the local fire crews.
“This is what the Defence Force is all about – helping those in need and doing something good for the community.”
The NZDF also deployed 220 personnel recently to fight bushfires in Nelson, and others to fight fires in Marlborough and Canterbury.
A former volunteer firefighter in Central Hawke’s Bay, Corporal Mouldey has firefighting in his family.
“My dad has been a volunteer firefighter for the past 14 years and is very happy for me to get my first overseas deployment to Tasmania,” he said.
“He asked me to keep him posted because he might also deploy to Tasmania.”
Currently based at Waiouru Military Camp as a Senior Responder in the Emergency Response Troop, Corporal Mouldey has been involved in firefighting operations in Linton, Taihape and Waiouru.
Born and raised in Waipukurau in Central Hawke’s Bay, Corporal Mouldey joined the New Zealand Army a few months after graduating from Central Hawke’s Bay College in 2011.
“I liked the opportunities and the job security that the Army offered. For someone fresh from high school at the time, that was important to me,” he said.