Pat back from US fires

McIvor Times - - TRADE & SERVICES GUIDE -

AF­TER two weeks fight­ing fires in the United States, Pat McCarthy has re­turned home to Heath­cote.

Work­ing for For­est Fire Man­age­ment Vic­to­ria, McCarthy was de­ployed to help fight the dev­as­tat­ing fires in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia.

Mr McCarthy said it was an in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence and he was blown away by the whole process.

“We ar­rived in Sacra­mento, on Wednesday Oc­to­ber 18 and re­ceived a brief­ing be­fore the Vic­to­rian fire­fight­ers were im­me­di­ately sent to Santa Rosa to as­sist with the Cen­tral Santa Rosa and Napa Val­ley fire,” Mr McCarthy said.

“We were sent right into the thick of things. The fire had been go­ing for at least two weeks and there were al­ready 10,700 fire­fight­ers tack­ling the fire when we ar­rived.

“There were more than 1,000 tankers on this one fire and 486 dif­fer­ent agen­cies in­volved in all of the Cal­i­for­nia fires put to­gether.

“The Na­tional Guard han­dled the camp we were based in, which housed ap­prox­i­mately 6,000 peo­ple.

“There were also more than 400 in­mates from min­i­mum se­cu­rity pris­ons help­ing out with the fires.

“My role as field li­ai­son of­fi­cer had me work­ing in the in­ci­dent man­age­ment team in Santa Rosa and out in the field as­sist­ing the 33 de­ployed Vic­to­rian fire­fight­ers with travel, safety and sys­tems.

“I trav­elled to the base camps where the FFMVic fire­fight­ers were posted to check in and make sure they were all do­ing well.

“I also worked on the fire in Santa Rosa as a front­line fire­fighter.

“This was my first time to the US and the enor­mity of the event was un­be­liev­able but our FFMVic fire­fight­ers met ev­ery chal­lenge head on with pro­fes­sion­al­ism and strength.

“The lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties were so wel­com­ing and grate­ful that we were there to help them, it was over­whelm­ing.

“On our last day, the Santa Rosa and Napa Val­ley fire was un­der con­trol and was handed back to the lo­cal Santa Rosa fire de­part­ments to man­age.

“My big­gest learn­ing from the ex­pe­ri­ence was how or­gan­ised and pro­fes­sional the Amer­i­cans are while car­ry­ing out such a mas­sive un­der­tak­ing with thou­sands of peo­ple.”

Pat McCarthy and op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer Steve Spin­haney.

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