16 November 2019
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is sending four firefighters to Australia to join the Fire and Emergency New Zealand effort to control bushfires that are spreading across New South Wales.
The four firefighters, three from the New Zealand Army and one from the Royal New Zealand Air Force, will leave on Sunday.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand requested assistance from the NZDF following discussions with the New South Wales Fire Service.
Emergency services in New South Wales have been battling more than 120 bush and grass fires and many are still to be contained. More than 1000 firefighters have been deployed, along with hundreds of support personnel, aircraft and appliances.
Major Kenny Long, Officer Commanding for the Army’s firefighting unit, said the team would be working alongside colleagues from Fire and Emergency New Zealand and New South Wales Fire Service.
“We’re expecting very long days in challenging conditions, including temperatures much hotter than we get here in New Zealand, but we’re very pleased to be able to help,’’ Major Long said.
The team was expecting to be in Australia for about two weeks, he said.
One of the NZDF team members, Sergeant Joshua Nahi, also went to Australia in 2015, to help fight the Tasmania fires.
NZDF’s firefighters are trained to work in rugged conditions, such as those experienced when fighting the Nelson fires earlier this year.