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US, New Zealand revise and expand firefighting agreement

New Zeraland chief fire executive and US ambassador to New Zealand, sitting at desk, signing agreement. NZ and US flags in the background.
From left, New Zealand chief executive and U.S. ambassador sign agrrement for fire exchange. USDA Forest Service photo.

NEW ZEALAND – Earlier this year, Fire & Aviation Management, working closely with Department of the Interior, Department of State, and Fire & Emergency New Zealand, completed the revision and expansion of the 17-year-old arrangement for the exchange of firefighting resources for fire suppression support. The new arrangement was signed in New Zealand by the U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand and the Administrator of FENZ. In 2017, a similar arrangement between the United States and Australia was signed in Australia by the U.S. Embassy Canberra Chargé d’Affaires and the Director General of Emergency Management Australia.

Since the busiest part of the fire year for the U.S. is the opposite time of year from the height of fire season in New Zealand and Australia, and because these countries use interchangeable methods and doctrine, a mutually beneficial mechanism was established in 2002 for quickly sharing trained personnel and critical resources. The renewed arrangements include updates that cover pre-suppression and prevention activities and reflect current coordinating mechanisms within Australia.

In addition to fire suppression support, the new arrangements also allow for assistance in the prevention or management of wildland fire, including providing personnel, information, technology, skills, training, research, and innovations for the purpose of improving their wildland fire management capabilities and knowledge to provide effective assistance to one another when necessary.

Work is currently underway on a revision to the 1982 arrangement between the United States and Canada to provide mutual assistance in fighting wildland fires. This new arrangement will be similar in content to the arrangements with New Zealand and Australia. An agreement between the U.S. and Mexico for fire suppression support was signed in 2015.

FAM, Canadian wildland fire agencies, and Mexico’s CONAFOR have worked jointly on wildland fire-related projects for over fifty years through the North American Forest Commission’s Fire Management Working Group.