Mid Coast RFS members Andrew Knox, Brett McMillen and Ty Saunders among firefighting personnel to battle blazes in United States

Ready for action: The Australian contingent of Rural Fire Service personnel before their flight to the US to battle bushfires.
Ready for action: The Australian contingent of Rural Fire Service personnel before their flight to the US to battle bushfires.

Three Rural Fire Service (RFS) officers based in the Mid Coast have joined fellow Australian and New Zealand personnel to help fight wildfires raging across the United States.

Andrew Knox, Brett McMillen and Ty Saunders were part of the group which flew out of Sydney airport last Friday, August 3.

The group touched down in Idaho earlier this week for induction and briefing on the situation. 

They will then be deployed across 14 states including Florida, Oregon, Colorado and Washington to assist with the battle to control more than 140 blazes. 

More than 100 personnel are attached to NSW RFS while 13 firefighters and specialists are from Fire and Rescue NSW.

NSW RFS Mid Coast district officer Stuart Robb said it was common for local RFS members to be involved in overseas firefighting operations.

“We always have at least one or two join the contingent,” Mr Robb said. 

“When they are sending more than 100 people they need to spread it around so some areas aren’t left short.”

RFS Mid Coast district manager Superintendent Kam Baker last year said an advantage of utilising Australian firefighters in the northern hemisphere was due to a difference in seasons. 

We always have at least one or two join the contingent.

Stuart Robb, Rural Fire Service Mid Coast district officer

“Across the world we all fight forest fires the same,” he said.

"We all pretty much use the same techniques – our terminology might be a bit different but the basis is on the ground.

"At the end of the day, we're technically in winter- to go in the southern hemisphere we're in our off-fire season they're in their fire season.”

The fires have claimed the lives of several people, destroyed hundreds of homes and burnt thousands of hectares.