By Heidi Schewel, Public Affairs Specialist

Coronado National Forest Aviation Officer Sean Cox has taken his expertise abroad! Australia is experiencing an early and significant fire season, particularly in the states of New South Wales and Queensland. Significant fire activity is expected to continue for the next several months. Firefighting assistance from the US has been requested and answered.

The initial mobilization includes 21 personnel (“single resources”) from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and Forest Service. This emergency wildland firefighting support is being conducted under the bilateral international agreement between the US Departments of Agriculture and Interior and the Government of Australia.

The US is providing resources with experience in incident management and aviation management to supplement Australian personnel. The US contingency is made up of Operations Section Chiefs, Planning Section Chiefs, Air Tactical Group Supervisors and Air Operations functions of the Incident Command System.

This photo is Sean with Karen Hodgen, who is serving on the Gospers Mountain Fire in a position equivalent to our Type I Incident Commanders.

Sean is working for New South Wales, Rural Fire Service. New South Wales is amidst their worst fire season on record. As Air Operations Branch Director he will help coordinate aerial firefighting resources which include air attack platforms, unmanned aircraft systems (“drones”), air tankers including large and very large air tankers and all kinds of helicopters, similar to aviation resources we use here.

The Americans are expected to be engaged in 30 days of active firefighting, with flexibility to move as needed to respond to changing conditions. Their return date is anticipated to be Jan. 7th. Additional US resources have been requested.

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