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NewZealand firefighters helping tackle Australian bush fires reflect on their job

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NewZealand firefighters helping tackle Australian bush fires reflect on their job

New Zealand fire fighters are contending with long days and tiring work as they help their trans-Tasman colleagues fight the worst bush-fire season on record.

NZ firefighters in Australia
Photo: Supplied / Fire and Emergency

The fires have taken a number of lives, destroyed homes and properties, killed millions of wildlife and engulfed thousands of hectares of land.

The New Zealand contingent is based in Queanbeyan in New South Wales.

On Tuesday, they were having a rest day and some spoke about the work and the difficulties they face.

Ken Keenan is a volunteer firefighter from Southland.

”In a typical day we might drive two hours for a start and then walk for probably another hour or two hours to get to the fire line and you have to be flexible in what you are doing because it’s unexpected what you might strike. The likes of yesterday where we thought we were going to a moderate, spot fire and we got there and it was quite intense and the plan changes pretty rapidly, but you deal with that.”

Keenan is one of 21 fire fighters, all mainly volunteers, who went over earlier in January.

New Zealand has been providing assistance sending fire fighters on rotation since October.

Strike Team Leader is Bruce Janes from Rangiora.

He said 14 to 16 hour days for the five teams were common.

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