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NZ firefighters deployed to Western USA

Hon Rick Barker
Minister of Internal Affairs

9 August 2006
Media Release

NZ firefighters deployed to Western USA

Ten New Zealand rural fire service personnel are being deployed immediately to the Western United States to help fight wildfires, Rick Barker said today.

"These firefighters will form part of a 50 strong joint Australian-New Zealand response to a request for urgent assistance from the combined United States fire agencies," said Rick Barker.

New Zealand, Australia and the US are parties to mutual assistance agreements covering the provision of specialist wildfire fighting capability in times of need. The agreements stipulate that the host country pays for the deployment.

“The mutual assistance agreements work both ways – we provide additional capability at times of extreme fire conditions abroad, gain experience in working in large incidents and build our capability; and we know that in a time of need we will receive the same support," said Rick Barker.

"New Zealand has sent personnel to both Australia and the US several times. Previous deployments to America were made in 2000, 2002 and 2003.

“We are pleased to continue the proud tradition of international support in wildfire fighting built up over the last decade," said Rick Barker.

Those deployed are employed in a wide range of organisations including the Department of Conservation, forest companies, local authorities and Rural Fire Districts around the country.

They will provide divisional supervision, helicopter management and area liaison capability.

“I know our personnel will respond positively to the inevitable challenges they will face and I wish them a safe return," said Rick Barker.

The deployment is expected to last for 30 days and it is possible a second deployment will follow depending on the fire conditions prevailing at that time.


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