Firefighter Wayne Rigg joins fight in Canada

Country Fire Authority Operations Officer Wayne Rigg. Picture: Justin Whitelock
Country Fire Authority Operations Officer Wayne Rigg. Picture: Justin Whitelock

A Ballarat firefighting and aviation expert will fly to Canada to help fight bushfires raging across British Columbia.

Country Fire Authority Operations Officers Wayne Rigg will head to the region near Vancouver, in the nation’s west, where more than 100 fires are out of control.

British Columbia has been in a state of emergency and evacuation orders were issued in some areas.

It will be Mr Rigg’s third deployment to Canada, after he also helped in fires in 2014 and 2015.

He will manage aircraft operations in response to the major emergency.

Mr Rigg said there was a strong relationship between Australian fire authorities and the British Columbia Wildfire Service.

“It is always unfortunate when they have to ask for help because it means they have a lot of fires if they have to call on other resources,” he said.

“The reception is always welcoming and they are always happy to see us.

“The Canadians have come out here in 2007 and 2009 as well, to help and I know they would be here at the drop of a hat if we asked for more help in the future.”

Thirteen firefighters will join an Australian contingent of 50 people heading to Canada.

They will meet in Sydney for a briefing on Tuesday, before flying out to Vancouver where they will arrive on Wednesday.

Mr Rigg said it does not take long for them to integrate with one another because the Canadian and Australian fire crews have already worked together closely.

“First and foremost we will do whatever we are asked to do, to help the Canadian communities and firefighters,” he said.

“We are there to do a job, we are highly trained and can gel together very quickly and integrate as needed.

“This my third time, so I have an idea of what to expect.”

While overseas Mr Rigg will leave behind his family, including wife and 12-year-old daughter.

He said the support of his family was essential during the 42-deployment.

“There is a big impact on the people deploying and the people they leave behind,” he said.

“That is a long time to be away.

“I really appreciate the support of my family – all the people deploying are leaving behind their families, their work and their friends to help in an international country for six weeks.”