U.S. Firefighters Say ‘Easy Decision’ to Head to Australia and Assist in Crisis

TOPSHOT - A firefighter conducts back-burning measures to secure residential areas from encroaching bushfires in the Central Coast, some 90-110 kilometres north of Sydney on December 10, 2019. - Toxic haze blanketed Sydney on December 10 triggering a chorus of smoke alarms to ring across the city, as Australians braced …
SAEED KHAN/AFP via Getty

A 21-strong team of specialised U.S. firefighters said Tuesday it was an “easy decision” to fly to Australia and assist local crews as they continue their battle against dozens of fires raging across the country.

The long trip into harm’s way was not taken lightly but ultimately helping their weary fellows in a crisis was, “actually … pretty easy”, according to Kyle Cowan, the associate manager from the Bureau of Land Management, Alaska Fire Service.

He said he and his team were aware of the losses already experienced by locals just one week into summer but wanted to do all they could to help.

The U.S. team was told on landing of the “unprecedented” conditions and large bushfire sizes across the states of NSW, Queensland and into Victoria, according to Cowan.

“It’s very large fires, a very large season and your summer has just begun,” he told the ABC.

“We recognise the hardships folks have had here. Some people have lost everything. It’s actually a pretty easy decision for us for us to want to come to help,” Cowan said.

“The folks we’re bringing are very experienced, probably averaging between 25 to 30 years of experience.”

He said the U.S. firefighters had expertise in aviation, operations and “long-term planning and strategic planning.”

As Breitbart News reported, the U.S. personnel have given up the chance to celebrate Christmas at home with their families to make the journey Down Under.

They represent the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Forest Service. The employees are coming from Alaska, Nevada, Montana, Colorado, Arizona, Idaho, Utah, California, Oregon, Hawaii, and Virginia.

Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner Paul Baxter said the Australian accent will probably take some getting used to as will the dangers posed by the poisonous local wildlife, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

That aside, the U.S. personnel “operate on very similar systems to what we operate on here in Australia, so they can drop onto our teams and, once they’ve picked up the change in accents, add value to our firefighting operations very quickly,” he said.

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