Wimmera fire-fighters deployed to Canada to battle bushfires

Department of Environment and Primary Industries fire-fighter Glen Rudolph has left for Canada to fight bushfires. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Department of Environment and Primary Industries fire-fighter Glen Rudolph has left for Canada to fight bushfires. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

TWO Wimmera fire-fighters are among 80 Australians being deployed to Canada to help combat summer bushfires.

Department of Environment and Primary Industries fire-fighters Glenn Rudolph and Jill Read left for Canada on Saturday as part of a State Government agreement.

Mr Rudolph said it would be an exciting experience.

"Canada has had a rather busy fire season this year, with more than 1000 fires and a number of them have been quite large," he said.

"We will be there for about five weeks and work two 14-day shifts, with a few days off in between."

Mr Rudolph said it was the first time he had been deployed overseas for fire-fighting work.

"I play a big role in fire-fighting in the Wimmera, so it's an opportunity to go and see how things are done in other parts of the world and form relationships there," he said.

"Fire-fighting in general is very rewarding because it's about working to protect communities and the environment. It is also really challenging. We have seen a lot of changes over the years in the way fires are appearing in the landscape.

"We have had a lot of big fires in the Wimmera in the past 10 years."

Mr Rudolph started work as a project fire-fighter with the department's summer crew in 2003.

"Since then I've managed to get an ongoing job with the department and continue my career," he said.

Police and Emergency Services and Bushfire Response Minister Kim Wells said the international call for help came during an already challenging fire season in western Canada.

"The Canadian Wildfire Management Branch has responded to almost 1000 wildfires so far this season and the hot and dry conditions are set to continue," he said.

"Our fire-fighters battle some of the toughest blazes in the world, and have experienced one of the most challenging summer fire campaigns.

"Their expertise is internationally recognised and needed."

Mr Wells said the deployment included 50 Victorians from the department, Parks Victoria, Melbourne Water, Country Fire Authority, Metropolitan Fire Brigade and State Emergency Services.

He said it would include fire-fighters from NSW, Queensland, Western Australia, ACT and South Australia.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Ryan Smith said the deployment was made possible through a formal agreement between the department and the British Columbia fire authorities.

"Our team has the necessary specialist experiences and skills in forest fire-fighting to help make a difference and we wish them all the best."

Ms Read was unavailable for comment before the Mail-Times went to press.