Local fireys lend a hand

Department of Primary Industries and Environment fire fighter David Ross will travel to Canada to fight fires. Picture: DAVID THORPE

Department of Primary Industries and Environment fire fighter David Ross will travel to Canada to fight fires. Picture: DAVID THORPE

FIVE firefighters from the Hume region have been chosen to travel to Canada to help during one of the country’s worst fire seasons.

Fifty Victorians will help make up the group of 80 Australians heading over to help fight more than 1000 bushfires.

The Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Parks Victoria, Melbourne Water and the CFA are leading the initiative.

North East firefighters will be joined by firefighters from across Australia who will be helping Canadian fire agencies for about five weeks.

David Ross from Wodonga has been a firefighter for 11 years and will be the divisional supervisor when the crew reaches Canada.

Mr Ross has been involved with major campaigns in Victoria, incl-uding in 2006-07 when Victorian fire agencies responded to more than 1000 bushfires, the Black Saturday fires in 2009 and the Harrietville fires last year.

He said it would be a challenge.

“The fuel types for fires in Canada are very different to Australia and the terrain can be very rugged,” Mr Ross said.

It will be Mr Ross’ first time in Canada but he has worked with British Columbian firefighters when they came to Victoria’s assistance during the 2007 bushfire season.

He said Victoria had an ongoing relationship with those from British Columbia who had helped in Victoria twice in the past decade.

The favour was returned when Victorians offered their assistance to the Canadians in 2009.

Mr Ross said he would be drawing on his years of experience as a firefighter.

“There hasn’t been any training before leaving, but we will have an induction when we get there,” he said.

Joining Mr Ross from the Hume region is Tracey Culhane (Ovens), Ian Vonarx (Ovens), Dave Bowdern (Alexandra) and Scott Edwards (Mansfield), all selected from a group of people who had expressed their interest.

Police and Emergency Services and Bushfire Response Minister Kim Wells said the expertise of Victorian firefighters was world class.

“Our firefighters battle some of the toughest blazes in the world, and recently experienced one of the most challenging summer fires campaigns.”

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