8 February 2019
Corporal Gordon Munn, one of five New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) firefighters who went this week to help tackle the Tasmanian bushfires, is confident their training has prepared them for the tough job ahead.
The NZDF firefighters have joined a Fire and Emergency New Zealand team assisting about 500 personnel from Tasmania Fire Service and other parts of Australia.
Corporal Munn said he had read the news about the extreme conditions that fire crews in Tasmania were facing but was confident that their training would serve them well.
“We’ve learnt various techniques to fight big fires and we are looking forward to working with the Tasmania Fire Service and the rest of the crew that are already there.
“Hot and dry conditions make it very challenging for firefighters to contain fires and climate change will make it even worse in years to come.”
While pleased to be able to help the people of Tasmania, Corporal Munn said his thoughts were also with his NZDF colleagues currently helping control the raging bushfire in Nelson.
Eighty-five NZDF personnel have now been sent to Nelson, working with crews from Fire and Emergency New Zealand and Department of Conservation, helping New Zealand Police enforce cordons in affected areas, supporting Civil Defence, and ready to help evacuate residents from Wakefield if that becomes necessary.
The youngest of four children, Corporal Munn was a volunteer firefighter in Ohakune for five years before he enlisted in the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) in September 2014. During that time he attended bushfires and house fires.
He comes from a family of firefighters. His father Kevin was a volunteer firefighter until his death two years ago, while his three elder sisters were also volunteer firefighters.
“Our parents instilled in us the volunteering ethos,” he said. “Through their example, we learnt what a fantastic opportunity it is to help other people.
“Like any other job, you do your best. In our case, we work to contain the fire, save people’s lives and protect properties,” Corporal Munn said.
Currently based at RNZAF Base Woodbourne, he is also a volunteer with the Blenheim Fire Brigade.
He said his family was very supportive of his upcoming deployment.
“They think it’s a great opportunity for me to do what I’m passionate about, which is to help people.”