The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Fire Management Program is responsible for protecting and restoring lands in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and Pacific Islands territories.
Service Fire Pros Lend a Hand Down Under
Three U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fire program employees were dispatched to Australia in mid-January, along with more than 100 volunteers from other agencies, to assist with wildfire suppression and emergency rehabilitation near Melbourne, the capital of the State of Victoria. Each Service employee served a 30-day assignment.
John Segar, the Service’s national fuels coordinator based in Boise, Idaho at the National Interagency Fire Center, served as the U.S. representative to the Victoria’s Department of Sustainability and Environment. Segar coordinated crew deployment and provided guidance to the American firefighters in Victoria.
Mary Kwart, a Service fuels specialist based in Anchorage, Alaska, served as a Situation Unit Leader. As a member of an Incident Management Team, Kwart was responsible for providing daily maps and fire behavior data to support planning and operations.
Robert Lambrecht, the Fire Management Officer for the Koyukuk/Nowita National Wildlife Refuge based in Galena, Alaska, held a critical field position in Australia as a Division Supervisor working directly on the fireline.
An extended drought in Victoria triggered the sharp increase in fire danger and wildfire activity there. Assistance from the United States was provided as part of an exchange agreement between Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Crews from Australia have fought wildfires in the United States for three of the past six years. Before beginning fire assignments, all crews are oriented to local safety concerns such as fire behavior, weather, and natural hazards.
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