The largest ever deployment of New Zealand bush fire experts is in action in the United States assisting with hundreds of wildfires.
A deployment of eleven firefighters from around New Zealand left for the north-western US on august 9 and a further 10 joined them late last week.
National Rural Fire Officer Murray Dudfield says this is the first time a second deployment from New Zealand has been requested.
The total deployment of 21 firefighters is by far the most we have committed to helping manage US wildfires.
The people going to the US will have to work extremely hard for two 14-day stretches, with two rest days in between, but will gain invaluable experience in assisting with containment of these fires.
The second deployment is on the ground now in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, tackling fires that have claimed 7.5 million acres (3 million hectares) nationally so far this fire season.
The first deployment is taking a break after working for two weeks solid.
The scale of the firefighting operations is enormous, with Counties-Manukau principal rural fire officer Bryan Cartelle listing the resources being used in just the area he is working in, in Washington: a total of 1977 people are spread over 7 camps. They are using 380 radios, 77 fire engines, 6 helicopters, 28 dozers and a total of 265 miles of hose. We use 3 tons of ice each day and drink 8 pallets of water and Gatorade a day.
New Zealand firefighters deployed to the US:
Names, Contributing Organisation, Location
First Deployment John Barnes, National Rural Fire Authority ,Christchurch Mike Grant, Southern Rural Fire District, Invercargill Paul Devlin, Christchurch City Council, Christchurch Nick McCabe, Waimea Rural District, Nelson Byran Cartelle, Manukau City Council, Manukau Evan Rarere, Pumicelands Rural Fire District, Rotorua Kevin Ihaka ,Aupouri Karikari Rural Fire District, Whangarei Mike Sullivan, Aupouri Karikari Rural Fire District ,Whangarei John Sutton, Department of Conservation Bay of Plenty, Murupara Eddie Te Kahika, Department of Conservation East Coast/Hawkes Bay, Napier Trevor Bullock, Department of Conservation – Northland, Kerikeri
Second Deployment Trevor Tidey, Southern Rural Fire District, Invercargill Tim Sheppard, Waimakariri District Council, Rangiora John Webster, Waimea Rural District, Nelson Rachael Thorp, Department of Conservation – Wellington, Wellington Matt Flynn, Department of Conservation Nelson/Marlborough, Blenheim Brian Taylor, Department of Conservation – Canterbury ,Rangiora Brad Lett, Department of Conservation Bay of Plenty, Murupara Graeme McIntyre, Palmerston North City Council, Palmerston North Bill Ellis, New Zealand Fire Service, Auckland Paul Kale, New Zealand Fire Service, Napier