Seventy-one fire managers and specialists from Australia and New Zealand are scheduled to arrive in Boise on Sunday for a day of training on current wildfire behavior, and then to be assigned to the various large fires now burning in the West. “We are very appreciative of the Australian and New Zealand firefighters for their availability to assist us with our current fire situation,” said Aitor Bidaburu, chair of National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group, which consists of top fire managers from an array of agencies. “We currently remain at National Preparedness Level 5, our resources are fully committed and there are no season-ending weather events in the foreseeable forecast. Because of the current level of commitment and forecast, having fire management expertise from Australian and New Zealand firefighters will be of tremendous help as we continue suppressing ongoing fires.”
Firefighters from those nations last came to the U.S. to help in 2008, when 49 of them spent 37 days fighting wildfires in California. In 2006, 120 firefighters from Australia and New Zealand helped fight wildfires in the U.S. “Assistance from Australia and New Zealand is a good fit primarily because their fire organizations are very similar to the United States national fire organization in training requirements and structure,” the National Interagency Fire Center reports. You can read their full announcement here. Firefighters and equipment from Canada already are on the fire lines in Montana and North Idaho.