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Joint NZ-Australia Forest Fire Fighting Standards

A proposed new joint set of practices, standards and training for fighting forest fires in New Zealand and Australia offers significant gains in forest fire fighting and safety, Forestry Minister Pete Hodgson said today.

Mr Hodgson said the creation of a consistent fire deployment model for the two countries would enable more effective protection of New Zealand's valuable plantation forests.

The new initiative was endorsed at a recent forestry session of the joint Australia- New Zealand Ministerial Council on Forestry, Fisheries and Aquaculture in Canberra. The council looked at the option of establishing training and accreditation standards, as well as national standards covering equipment, protective clothing and fitness.

The Council’s Fire Control Officers Group is investigating the proposal and will consult the New Zealand Fire Service Commission, Department of Conservation, New Zealand Forest Owners, Local Territorial Authorities and the Australian Fire Authorities Council. The officers group has been asked to give the Ministerial Council further advice on improving fire prevention methods for plantation forests.

The Ministerial Council praised the contribution made by nearly 100 New Zealand and Australian firefighters who went to the United States in August and September to battle severe forest fires there.

“The fact that those firefighters were called upon by the United States shows how highly regarded their skills are," Mr Hodgson said. "Getting them to the United States also provided them with valuable experience and introduced new ideas about how to improve forest fire fighting in New Zealand and Australia.”

Murray Dudfield, National Rural Fire Officer, 021 662 133


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