Firefighter Tom helps battle blazes in Canada

FIRE FRONT: Tom Denman in action in Canada.
FIRE FRONT: Tom Denman in action in Canada.

LOCAL firefighter Tom Denman has returned home with a team of Australian firefighters after supporting Canadian fire crews battling wildfires over the past month.

A Dorrigo-based Fire Behaviour Analyst, Tom was one of three NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service fire experts who were part of the 104 personnel from across all Australian states and emergency services deployed in July to assist with emergency wildfires.

Canada endured a severe fire season with the local and international firefighters confronting more than 6000 wildfires, doubling 2014 figures.

It was Tom's first deployment to Canada where he fought a series fires called the Larne Complex in remote Northern Alberta.

Tom's main role was to interpret the fire behaviour the crews were likely to experience in the region and help plan potential fire runs as well as assess any threats the fires posed.

Tom said lightning strikes are the main cause of wildfires in the region with crews working to firstly put the fires out before the next bad weather day, and secondly preventing the spread of the fires by keeping the ground moist.

Despite being along way from home and his family, Tom said the experience was a very beneficial for his career as a fire behaviour analyst.

"It's a fantastic opportunity; I feel very lucky to have got it and it definitely would be great to go back again," he said.

"It's a big thing to do in terms of spending that amount of time away from home, your family and particularly moving into our fire season here, but there's lots of benefits in terms of what you learn over there and what you bring back to help our fire season."

Tom learned a lot from the international crews fighting fires at the Larne Complex by gaining insights into their remote camp management and operations of Indigenous American crews.

"In that complex there was a group of Mexican crews, crews form Ontario as well as the Alberta crews, so that was the highlight just working with all those different countries," he said.

NPWS deputy chief executive, Michael Wright, thanked the entire deployment for their efforts supporting their Canadian counterparts.

"Our team certainly did us all proud; they have been fantastic representatives of NPWS and Australia in general."

For over 15 years, Australia and British Columbia have shared fire fighting resources in emergencies.

Topics:  dorrigo firefighting national parks and wildlife service npws

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