By Evelyn Leckie
FIREFIGHTERS from the United States of America arrived in Mount Macedon on Friday for a four-hour training session with Darraweit Guim and Kyneton CFA volunteers before being deployed to East Gippsland.
The 39 American firefighters quickly learnt how to operate CFA fire tankers and were put through safety drills on Friday, before being deployed to east Victoria on Saturday morning to fight the catastrophic fires that has devastated the state.
The firefighters assisted in regaining road access across East Gippsland.
“Our strong and ongoing relationships with North American firefighting agencies means we are able to share personnel, skills, knowledge, equipment and technology in times of emergency,” Victorian State Response Controller Stephanie Rotarangi said.
“We are extremely grateful for the expertise and support provided, and thank our North American colleagues for responding so quickly to the call for assistance, and to their families and employers for supporting this deployment.”
CFA District Two commander John Brakes said the training was necessary in order for the US firefighters to be familiar with Australian CFA tankers.
“Once they came to Australia they had an induction in Mount Macedon before being deployed alongside Australian CFA members,” he said.
The US volunteers travelled from as far as Arizona, Georgia, Texas, California and Idaho to assist with the Victorian bushfires.
The group of 39 is the first of two groups from North America to arrive in Victoria this week, with 71 firefighters – 61 from the US and 10 from Canada, set to arrive next week.
More than 1000 firefighters are continuing to work on fires across Victoria, with multiple fires still burning across East Gippland and north-east Victoria.