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Local firefighter joins international team

News release
06 August 2018

A team of 139 firefighters from Australia and New Zealand travelled to Los Angeles late last week to assist local fire crews trying to contain numerous large fires that have burned thousands of hectares in California.

The specialist firefighters will join more than 12,000 American firefighters and 17 water bomber crews. Natural Resources South East Lower South East District Manager Ross Anderson is amongst the contingent.

A south east local, Ross has almost 30 years of firefighting experience, including fighting forest fires in Central Gippsland during the Black Saturday fires in Victoria, and fighting significant fires in the Adelaide Hills and Flinders Ranges.

Ross joins this deployment as a Divisional Commander, leading fire crews on the ground.

Ross and SA Country Fire Service (CFS) personnel met with the rest of the Australian contingent in Sydney for a briefing late last week before flying to Los Angeles.

The South Australian deployment is being coordinated by the CFS.

SA CFS spokesman Brett Williamson said the firefighters chosen have valuable experience.

"Crews from the South East and the Port Lincoln area have the skills that the United States is searching for, as they have experience firefighting in rough terrain and forests," Mr Williamson said.

“The planned operation will see our personnel working a 14 day shift, followed by a two day rest break, followed by another 14 day shift.”

South Australia is also represented by CFS members Phillip Tapscott as a Sector Commander/Strike Team Leader, and Dyson Taverner as a Heavy Plant Supervisor.

Australia has an ongoing mutual fire management arrangement with the USA between the National Council for Fire and Emergency Services in Australia and New Zealand (AFAC), National Resource Sharing Centre (NRSC) and the National Interagency Firefighting Centre (NIFC).

Australian fire services have deployed to North America to support Canada or the United States numerous times since 2000 and the support has been reciprocated over a number of Australian summers. This team is expected to return in early September.

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