The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment’s Working on Fire programme is deploying a second contingent of 200 firefighters and 13 managers – Mzanzi Hotshots 2 – to assist in ongoing fire suppression operations in the Canadian Province of Alberta. This follows the deployment of 200 firefighters and 15 managers – on 3 June 2023.
Mzanzi Hotshots 2 will leave for Edmonton, Canada, on Wednesday 14 June 2023 from Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport at 12h00.
The deployment of both teams comes in response to an urgent request from the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC) in terms of the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Canada and South Africa. Alberta has already experienced more than 550 wildfires this season resulting in significant damage to property and infrastructure, and displacing thousands of people. Evacuation orders have been put in place in many areas.
The MOU signed in 2019, provides for the exchange of wildland fire management resources between South Africa and Canada. It was put in place following two earlier deployments to Canada to suppress wildfires in Alberta and Manitoba.
The 2023 deployment is the fifth collaboration between South Africa and Canada in terms of the exchange of personnel. The 2023 Canadian deployment teams comprise highly qualified firefighters, with a minimum of 3 years of firefighting experience, and are trained in Canadian pump operation techniques. The teams also include members with previous international firefighting experience, which enhances their expertise in tackling complex fire situations.
“I would like to extend my best wishes to the team as you embark on your deployment to Canada to help put out the fires raging in Alberta. You go to Canada to raise the South Africa flag and share your expertise and camaraderie with colleagues from other Canadian provinces to save lives, homes, businesses and large swathes of vegetation,” said Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Ms Barbara Creecy.
“We are proud of the fact that South Africa is again able to assist Canadian firefighting teams in their battle to bring the wildfires under control. The extensive experience and training of these firefighters will significantly enhance efforts to effectively suppress and manage the wildfires in Alberta,” said Minister Creecy.
Working on Fire takes great pride in mobilising such qualified and diverse teams to bolster Canada’s firefighting efforts. The extensive experience and training of these firefighters will significantly contribute to the effective suppression and management of wildfires in Alberta, ultimately helping to protect lives, properties, and the environment.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Mr Peter Mbelengwa
Acting Chief Director: Communication – Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment
or +27 82 611 8197
Stakeholder Relations Manager: Working On Fire – Kishugu JV
or +27 82 508 0990
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF FORESTRY, FISHERIES AND THE ENVIRONMENT