Twenty-six New Zealand firefighters from across the country will depart to Australia this weekend to help fight the deadly wildfires which have been raging in New South Wales since September.
The New Zealand contingent, which will consist of six four-person crews, a task force leader and a liaison officer, will arrive in Sydney on Sunday evening before being deployed to fires around the state, Fire and Emergency New Zealand said in a statement.
The crews will work up to 14-hour shifts for two five-day rotations. Crews will be allowed a rest day between the rotations, with a travel day on either side.
The crews are in addition to the roughly 25 New Zealand Fire and Emergency personnel already in the country assisting with air attack, heavy machinery, safety and deployment coordination.
As of this morning, there were nearly 70 active bushfires in New South Wales, and a state of fire emergency has been called.
"Fighting fires of this magnitude is a hugely demanding task and we’re happy to continue to support our Australian colleagues when called upon," said Fire and Emergency New Zealand national manager of response capability Paul Turner.
"Deploying overseas is a valuable development opportunity for those involved and gives them experience in different environments that they can bring back here," Mr Turner said.
Over the past 19 years, fire services have deployed more than 1000 personnel overseas - more than 160 of them to Australia in the past 12 months. Since 2000, crews have been deployed to Canada, the US and Australia 27 times.