As bushfires continue to burn in Australia, the United States is sending additional U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) wildfire personnel to assist with ongoing bushfire suppression efforts in Australia. Three 10-person Incident Management Teams and a group consisting of air support personnel have arrived in Australia in recent days. Additionally, two 20-person hand crews will be travelling to Australia today, January 23. These crews are a combination of DOI and USFS firefighters from throughout the United States. The U.S. has already deployed more than 200 USFS and DOI wildland fire staff to the Australian Bushfire response.
Based on requests from AFAC, U.S. fire personnel have been deployed and will continue to provide assistance as requested through the existing agreement. The U.S. firefighters are filling critical wildfire and aviation management roles in New South Wales and Victoria.
The U.S., Australia and New Zealand have been exchanging fire assistance for more than 15 years. The most recent exchange occurred in August of 2018, when 138 Australian and New Zealand wildfire management personnel were sent to the U.S. for almost 30 days to assist with wildfire suppression efforts in Northern California and the Northwest. The Australian and New Zealand personnel filled critical needs during the peak of the western fire season for mid-level fireline management, heavy equipment, helicopter operations, and structure protection.