Firefighters from Australia and New Zealand arrive in Boise

Posted at 4:14 PM, Aug 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-05 23:40:09-04

With wildfires raging in parts of Idaho, California, and Oregon, the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise is calling on "a little help from our friends."

"Thankfully-- Australia and New Zealand-- they have similar fire seasons like we do in the US," Jessica Gardetto, the spokeswoman for BLM said. "They have a lot of firefighters that are trained in fighting fire just like our firefighters here."

More than 160 Australian and New Zealander firefighters landed in Boise Saturday night to assist with suppression efforts. The Manager of State Operations, Response, and Coordination, Peter McKechnie, says the countries have stepped in to help in crises for more than twenty years.

"We've had people moving between the countries when we've needed to. When we've had bad fire seasons, the Americans have come and helped us," McKechnie said.

According to Gardetto, any time there is an abnormal amount of fire activity, the positions highest in demand are management positions.

"Thankfully, these Australian and New Zealanders are going to be able to provide that," Gardetto said.

An induction at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise is designed to help the firefighters acclimate.

"It's just to make sure that they understand local procedures, how things are described on the fireline in America compared to how they're described in Australia," Gardetto said. "We also work with them on fire shelter training, because firefighters in Australia and New Zealand don't have to carry fire shelters like our firefighters do in the United States."

The firefighters say they are looking forward to learning on the job.

"Yeah just learn how things operate and see a different countryside, and, meet different people," said Gordon Tighe, a Heavy Plane Supervisor from New South Wales.