British Columbia Update

Fire and Emergency New Zealand

British Columbia Update

I was very pleased to hear all 80 New Zealanders deployed to help combat wildfires in British Columbia arrived safely to support their Canadian colleagues.

This is New Zealand’s largest-ever deployment to Canada and the most people we’ve sent in one go since the first international deployment to Australia in 2000. It is a cross-agency deployment with Department of Conservation staff and Forestry contractors working alongside our own rural and urban people. See the deployment’s first newsletter here.

The benefits can’t be understated. Beyond representing our country overseas, deployments like this are an opportunity for our people to gain valuable experience, build new relationships (and strengthen existing ones), and hone their skills in areas like incident management.

The Christchurch and Kaikōura earthquakes, Hawke’s Bay and Port Hills fires or any of the significant floods over the past few years are all examples of incidents where capability in this area is critical. Despite their varied nature, all have required agencies to work in-step with each other to get the job done, and the public expects nothing less.

These are the types of incidents we’re building Fire and Emergency to be ready for. As Chief Executive I intend to use this deployment, and any similar opportunities that arise, to help develop our capability in this area.

That goes at the national level but also at a local level as well. Touring Regions 1, 2, 3, and 4 so far I have been really impressed with the strong connections that already exist between local groups. Building these relationships, particularly at the station and area-level, will be a big part of integrating existing urban and rural units over the next three years.

Preparation is key. We may not always have warning of when or where the next major incident will strike but we can ensure our communities are better prepared to face it by increasing understanding of our own capabilities, the capabilities of the organisations we work alongside, and jointly-applying the lessons of past experiences and events.

- Rhys