Australia — Where Robert Krause calls home the month of January has never had a fire danger warning.
But the 47-year-old says he still knows a thing or two about fighting a blazing bushfire as plenty of snowfall and an Arctic breeze blows across his Canadian heartland.
Mr Krause has arrived in Victoria to help with the summer fire season.
With nearly 30 years of experience behind him fighting blazes in the heavily forested western Canadian province of British Columbia, he will be dispatched to incident control centres across Victoria to share information on the best practices in managing a blaze.
Despite the dramatic differences in weather, the two countries have a lot in common, he says.
“Surprisingly, the basic techniques (in fighting a fire) are almost identical,” he told AAP on Wednesday.
“The fire behaviour is also very similar. And we use a similar system, so we fit in pretty nicely.”
The trip has an added benefit for him personally; he’s not very busy this time of year when Canada is plunged into the darkness of a northern hemisphere winter.
“It’s a nice break from shovelling snow,” he laughs.
Mr Krause will join a team of 15 experts from Canada and the United States who arrived in Melbourne on Wednesday to boost Victoria’s firefighting efforts.
The group will be trained over the next two days and stay for a month working in Orbost, the Otways, Bendigo and other fire-prone regions.
If conditions in Victoria are still severe upon their departure, another team will replace them as part of an exchange between the three countries. A team of Australians will later be sent to North America to help with forest fires in July and August.
Mr Krause has worked on some of Canada’s biggest fires, including the 2003 Kelowna firestorm that destroyed nearly 300 properties.
One thing he’s learned is that Australian bushfires burn hotter and faster than fires in Canada.
He was in Australia helping fire fighting efforts during Victoria’s 2006 Great Divide fires that burned for 68 days.
Still, the international fire expert has yet to see a blaze as terrible and tragic as Black Saturday.
“You never want to believe that something that horrific could happen, but given the extreme fire behaviour we see in Australia, it does happen … and it could happen again,” he says.
“Hopefully, all this work we’re doing, it’s going to make a difference.”