THEY’RE many thousands of kilometres from their home country, but regional NSW feels just like home for these Botswana firefighters
Obvious differences like language and currency aside, the countries share almost identical landscape with high, dry grass and thick scrub.
This geographical similarity is one of the reasons why representatives from the land-locked country are using the Rural Fire Service, more specifically the Albury RFS, to absorb firefighting methods.
“You can be standing in parts of Botswana and mistake it for parts of NSW,” RFS superintendent Sean McArdle said.
“There’s a lot of similarities, including major fire trails.
“The ability of both of our organisations to learn from each other has been a godsend.
“We learn from each other – it’s not one way.”
The program has been running for several years.
It started after a huge blaze in Botswana in 2008 destroyed many farms and livestock.
On this trip, six Botswanian officers, including chief forest and range resources officer Jeremiah Ramontsho, are spending two weeks in NSW, four days of them in Albury.
Mr Ramontsho said more volunteer involvement and “fighting fire with fire” had been important lessons he had learnt on this trip.
“There are things we want to do immediately, like a fuel-reduction program,” Mr Ramontsho said.
“The volunteer system will take some time but we are interested in establishing it.”
Communication, equipment and co-ordination are also areas that need to be improved, Mr Ramontsho said.