In case you’re not clued up there’s a massive fire in Canada that has been raging since April. It has gutted over 520 000 hectares, including forests, suburbs, and industrial areas.
Now, 301 South African firefighters and management from the Department of Environmental Affair’s Working on Fire programme are on their way to assist in the process.
Although the worst of the damage is now over, the SA team has been asked to help with the fire-suppression efforts.
Having begun to assemble in Jozi, the team will be flying to Alberta, Canada, on Sunday. Working on Fire spokesman Linton Rensburg said:
This deployment of wildland fire fighters is the biggest South African deployment ever (outside of the army) to assist a foreign country.
There a number of priority fires that require human resources especially the Fort McMurray‚ Alberta‚ fire. CIFFC have sent a formal request for assistance to their international partners including Working on Fire.
This pending international deployment comes at the back of fire fighters from Working on Fire who have already been to Canada in 2015 where they assisted the authorities over there with fire suppression and prevention services.
The Canadians have even brought in their own planes to charter our firefighters to the situation.
Training started in April, when Working on Fire held a National Deployment Bootcamp in Gauteng. 400 fire fighters received training to ensure that they were physically fit and ready for deployment:
We also wanted to elevate the level of training to meet international standards‚ and in so doing‚ to raise the level of service they offer during deployments. Instructors from the WOF Training Academy conducted fitness drills and representatives from Canada demonstrated how Canadian water handling equipment works.
As part of a resource sharing arrangement between Canadian fire fighting agencies and ourselves‚ the fire fighters will be deployed to Alberta‚ from where they will be dispatched to assist with the suppression of wildland fires in the surrounding forested areas. The wildland fire control effort and the supporting strategies are largely for forest fires in both remote areas and on the forest and rural land interface.
We are immensely proud of the fact that the international fire fighting community has recognised the skills and expertise within Working on Fire to provide essential integrated fire management services at an international level.
Let’s just pray no one starts any more fires down south.
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