Two firies from the MIA District’s NSW RFS unit are being deployed to Canada and the United States to assist crews on the ground with a savage wildfire season.
Operational Officer Stephen Kada and State Mitigation Crew Member Deanne Bailey were selected from units across NSW, in what will be their first overseas deployment.
Ms Bailey left for the United States last week and will work as a Safety Officer at numerous fires around California and Oregon.
I joined when I was 14 and never thought I would have the opportunity to go and do this type of thing – It’s a privilege.RFS MIA District Operations Officer Stephen Kada.
Mr Kada left for Canada on Tuesday to be a Public Information Chief, predominately in the province of British Columbia, where the number of fires burning across the province is rapidly approaching the 500 mark.
“I know it’s cliched, but I joined when I was 14 and never thought I would have the opportunity to go and do this type of thing – It’s a privilege,” Mr Kada said.
“We love helping our local communities but if we are chosen to help someone so far away, it’s a pretty cool feeling.”
Having been briefed, Ms Bailey joined a contingent of 100 specialists, from fire agencies across Australia and the contingent from New Zealand now deployed to the states to assist in firefighting operations, as more 140 fire burn across the USA.
As Safety Officer, she will be front line out in the field, doing risk assessments, addressing safety concerns or issues in the field, and being a liaison between the Incident Controller and the field staff.
Mr Kada’s role will see him work with the media to make sure communities are kept up to date with accurate, relevant information in a timely manner, and to provide general support of the incident management teams.
“A lot of our practices and terminology are very similar but there are some idiosyncrasies, so it will be interesting to see how they work, the different vegetation and climates, see how fire reacts in those types of environments.”
Sleeping in a tent for a month he says will be “interesting,” as well as the possibility of running into a bear or two, but overall it’s a “privilege” helping out.
“But also being mindful there are commitments here back home, and grateful for everyone here who will have to pick up the slack.”