News.bytes Extra, issue 267

BLM firefighter returning Australian favor

When firefighters in the American West were stretched thin last summer, more than 100 ground and aviation fire managers from Australia and New Zealand lent a hand.

Now, American firefighters are returning the favor. Chris Ryan, a BLM Bakersfield Wildland Fire Support specialist is joining 106 other American firefighter to help fight fires in Australia. She will serve as a Resource Unit leader and expects to be gone on assignment for 33 days.

Christina Ryan (right) and archeologist Kim Cuevas confer near blackened areas, after a fire at the Carrizo Plain National Monument last summer:
Christina Ryan (right) and archeologist Kim Cuevas at a fire at the Carrizo Plain National Monument last summer

The National Interagency Fire Center is responding to a request by the Australian State of Victoria’s Department of Sustainability and Environment for an additional 107 federal fire personnel, including two interagency Type 1 crews, to assist with bush fires in Australia. Currently there are 2.6 million acres burning east and northwest of Melbourne, the capital of the state of Victoria. Fire conditions in Australia are extreme due to an extended drought, hot temperatures and relative humidity in single digits.

"Chris and I worked with several of the Aussies during our off district assignments on the Bar Complex so it is great to be able to turn around and help them," said BLM Fire Mitigation and Education Specialist Debbie Santiago. "No matter how far our fire family is when we are called to duty, our commitment to help is strong."

Ryan manages prescribed fire planning and smoke quality issues for the BLM Bakersfield office. On wildfires, she is a Resource Unit leader responsible for tracking all fire personnel during incidents with major mobilization and demobilization duties. She works directly for the Incident Command staff in the Planning Section and has worked on several Type I and Type II fire teams.

D. Christie, 2/5/07

BLM California News.bytes, issue 267