Brent King is in fire fighting limbo.
The Tamworth Rural Fire Service deputy captain is on standby to drop into one of the worst Canadian fire seasons in recent years, and while he obviously doesn’t want the fires to get any worse, he also doesn’t want to miss out on the experience of a lifetime.
Mr King knows exactly what to expect, after being called up for a similar tour of duty exactly one year ago, where he was dropped into a fire at Elephant Hill in British Columbia that claimed nearly 400 homes.
“The scorching heat and the damage that fire created can only be related to the Black Saturday fires in Victoria,” he said.
“I never want to see fires get that bad, but at the same time it is a great experience. We are going to help people, but also learn a lot of new skills, and work with good people from all over the world.”
There are currently 450 fires blazing across the Canadian countryside. The two major blazes at Snowy Mountains and Telegraph Point have both already consumed 15,000 hectares each, including several houses.
Mr King got the call up last Thursday, taking six weeks unpaid leave from his signwriting job at Lloyds Signs as he prepared to ship out on Monday morning with between 15 and 40 fellow RFS firefighters.
“They have decided to keep monitoring the fires and put us on 24 hour standby,” he said.
If that call does come through there will be no sightseeing for the chainsaw operator and Rapid Aerial Response Team specialist.
“It is 14 days on, doing 12 to 14 hour days, then two days off and another 14 on, sleeping in tents the whole time,” he said.
Last weekend a team of 60 New Zealand and 60 Mexican firies went into Canada, while Tamworth’s own Allen Madden is currently on the front in the USA, alongside the Forestry Corporation’s Trent Froud.