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How to Help Volunteer Firefighters in Australia

January 7, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Cara Eaton
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In response to the wildfires in Australia, Volunteer Toronto encourages fellow Canadians to donate to the families of three volunteer firefighters who have lost their lives while saving others.

According to a press release from the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC), a non-profit facilitating international fire cooperation: “Canadians, both home and abroad, have expressed their desire to help with the Australian wildfires, please be advised that there is not currently a role for Canadian volunteers to assist in bushfire suppression.”

The release also states that Canadian specialists deployed to Australia are chosen based on their specific expertise and abilities in the respective areas of work. The CIFFC receives fire management requests both locally and internationally, coordinating with provinces and territories to confirm what they can provide and who is qualified and willing to go.

A total of 95 Canadians from fire services in Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland, and Parks Canada have been deployed to Australia since early December 2019.

Some volunteer firefighters consider the opportunity a chance to give back: Australia has sent fire personnel to Canada four times over the past several years as both Alberta and B.C. grappled with severe fires.


Volunteer Firefighting in Canada 

Volunteers—many of whom have full-time jobs outside of firefighting commitments, power a staggering number of fire departments in Canada.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, approximately 83% of firefighters in Canada are volunteers, accounting for 126,650 individuals who give their time to fire departments. There are an estimated 3,672 fire departments in Canada, of these, 3,061 are 100% volunteer-run, with an additional 501 identified as mostly volunteer-run.

Many volunteers follow the same training guidelines as full-time firefighters. Yet, having spent the night responding to an emergency, quite often need to be ready for other jobs in the morning. The Firefighters Association of Ontario says potential young recruits are shying away from joining after hearing about all the training needed.


Donate to the Families of Volunteer Firefighters

Canadians looking to help are encouraged by the CIFFC and Volunteer Toronto to donate to the families of the three volunteer firefightersFirefighters Samuel McPaul, Geoffrey Keaton, and Andrew O'Dwyerwho were tragically killed while working to suppress the fires in Australia.

 The New South Wales Rural Fire Service has created dedicated bank accounts to collect donations, click below to learn more.

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