HEATHCOTE firefighter Pat McCarthy is part of a 34-strong contingent from Victoria fighting fires in California.
In his role as Forest Fire Management Victoria’s (FFMVic) senior forest and fire operations officer, Mr McCarthy supervises the Heathcote and Rushworth depots and has worked on hundreds of fires over his 35-year career, including Black Saturday.
The crew in the US includes 20 frontline troops, 12 divisional commanders and two senior liaison officers and they are members of CFA and Forest Fire Management – which includes the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and Parks Victoria members.
Pat’s role as the field liaison officer.will be based in the state capital, Sacramento.
The role will have him working in the incident management team and out in the field assisting the Victorian firefighters with travel, safety, and systems.
FFMVic staff submit an annual expression of interest for overseas deployment. From this list, personnel are chosen based on the overseas requirements for each individual.
Victoria’s emergency management commissioner, Craig Lapsley, said California had requested support from Victoria for the northern California fires that have already caused significant death, destruction and community displacement.
‘‘Our thoughts are with those who have experienced loss,’’ he said.
“While Victoria is also coming into summer, the Victorian firefighting crews have been sourced from areas across the state and this has been carefully co-ordinated and considered to ensure that this small but important deployment does not impact on Victoria’s response capability running up to summer.’’
Victoria has a strong and ongoing relationship with California, in particular CalOES and CalFire. An agreement has been in place with the Californian Governor’s Office of Emergency Services since July 2015.
This partnership allows the exchange of personnel, resources, knowledge, skill, and mutual support in the event of an emergency.