Today, 40 firefighters leave New Zealand bound for Australia. They’re the eighth group to head across the Tasman and take the total number of Kiwi firefighters who have deployed to Australia since late October to 152.

Behind the scenes, our firefighters are supported by the National Coordination Centre (NCC), based at NHQ in Wellington, and Regional Coordinators in each Region.

Kate Hill, National Advisor Coordination Centres, says the NCC has been providing a broad range of ongoing support and coordination for this deployment.

“Our coordination work started well before we sent our first firefighters to Australia,” she says. “From the moment we were advised by Australia that we may be asked for firefighters, we’ve been working closely with our regional wildfire coordinators. They check who’s available in their region with the appropriate skills and experience, and often put those people on standby should we need to call on them at short notice. This involves a lot of to-ing and fro-ing.”

Kate explains that those who have been deployed to fight the wildfires in New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland have come from all over New Zealand, and include career and volunteer, rural and urban firefighters from Fire and Emergency, Department of Conservation, New Zealand Defence Force and contractors. They’re deployed for between 5 and 14 days at a time depending on their role.

“It takes a fair bit of planning and coordination before, during, and after they’re on deployment!”

For example, the NCC manages all the paperwork and logistics for each firefighter before they leave New Zealand, including passport and welfare checks, briefing documents, flights and accommodation, equipment, uniform and any other gear required.

Once on deployment the NCC team is in constant contact with their counterparts in NSW and Queensland to gain situational awareness, monitor the welfare of our firefighters and provide support and information to their families back here.

They also keep an eye on global weather forecasts and other big events that may have an impact on our people, and on the fire risk situation in New Zealand to ensure we have the right people available to support our own big event if required.

The NCC is also currently supporting a smaller international deployment to Samoa. Teams of three from Fire and Emergency have been providing logistics expertise to Ministry of Health’s humanitarian response to the measles outbreak there.

Kate is grateful to the people from NHQ and the regions who have dropped their day jobs to work in the NCC. She’d love to hear from you by email if you’re keen to get involved and want to know more:

Meeting time at the National Coordination Centre at NHQ

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