US asks for New Zealand firefighter
A New Zealand firefighter will leave for the United States today (Friday) as three US states battle wildfires.
National Rural Fire Authority manager, rural fire, John Rasmussen, of Palmerston North, is representing New Zealand following a request from the US.
John and an Australian representative have been asked to go to Boise, Idaho, to observe the current wildfire situation and possibly identify areas where New Zealand could assist with managing wildfires that have been ravaging Montana, Idaho and Oregon for several months.
National rural fire officer, Murray Dudfield, says that under a formal arrangement between New Zealand and the USA there has been a request for a New Zealand representative to look at the situation and decide whether we need to deploy firefighters to help out.
The request has come from the National Interagency Fire Centre at Boise, Idaho.
"They are looking for specific skills such as aviation fire managers and fire line managers. If New Zealanders do go they will be managing firefighters."
If there is a deployment it will be the third time New Zealanders have gone overseas to help fight wildfires. Nine went to the US in 2002 and 65 hill and high country firefighters went to Australia earlier this year.