Australian American firefighting relations remain close-knit according to visiting fire management officer Nathan Goodrich

INTERNATIONAL RESCUE: Fire management officer Nathan Goodrich (USDA Forrest Service) will head back to Oregon, USA this weekend after five weeks of collaboration with the NSW Rural Fire Service, Australian Defence Force and Parks NSW.
INTERNATIONAL RESCUE: Fire management officer Nathan Goodrich (USDA Forrest Service) will head back to Oregon, USA this weekend after five weeks of collaboration with the NSW Rural Fire Service, Australian Defence Force and Parks NSW.

American fire management officer Nathan Goodrich has described his five week journey down under as a privilege ahead of his departure back home.

The visitor proved to be a useful resource for authorities within the control room of the Hunter Valley RFS headquarters in recent weeks on account of his knowledge and expertise.

"Everyone in my group would echo that it was a privilege and honour to come down," the 49-year-old told the Singleton Argus this week.

"We received our orders on December 1 and arrived in Australia five days later.

PREVIOUS ASSIGNMENT: Oregon's Granite Gulch Fire, photographed from an airplane in August, 2019. (Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Photo)

PREVIOUS ASSIGNMENT: Oregon's Granite Gulch Fire, photographed from an airplane in August, 2019. (Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Photo)

"It was still winter at home so I was leaving the snow by coming here to help fight the fires."

Last year he helped co-ordinate the containment line around the Granite Gulch Fire within his jurisdiction as fire management officer for the northern part of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forrest in Oregon.

The East Oregonian reported that this particular fire was 92 acres (37 hectares) in size.

Fast forward five months later and he would stand proud as one of the 180 combined American and Candian fire experts to have worked amongst the 2,700 firefighters on the front lines so far this summer.

"We've had a 15-year-old agreement with Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Canada and Spain for trading firefighters and we pick up the bill for whoever we bring down," he explained.

Unfortunately, the battle will continue for many weeks to come as the bushfires have razed an estimated 25 million acres (10 million hectares) across Australia since September.

The national death toll has reached 27 people as of Thursday evening, roughly 2,000 houses have been destroyed and a total of 800 million animals are now thought to have died in the New South Wales bushfires alone.

WORKING TOGETHER: Fire management officer Nathan Goodrich (USDA Forrest Service) pictured alongside a Corporal from the Australian Army Reserve at the Hunter Valley RFS control room this week.

WORKING TOGETHER: Fire management officer Nathan Goodrich (USDA Forrest Service) pictured alongside a Corporal from the Australian Army Reserve at the Hunter Valley RFS control room this week.

However Goodrich believes the relationship between the Americans and Australians has continued to strengthen with each passing day.

"You don't usually have 130 fires at once to deal with back home so that's been the major difference," he continued.

"I've been saying that the conditions are very similar to our southern states so you could use the Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina area as an example.

"Similar terrain, different vegetation but similar to how it burns cause it's burning a lot of leaf litter; it will make runs if there is wind but generally the fire will just keep burning.

"Also, I think the eucalyptus is probably the contributing factor to the difference in fire behaviour in Australia because of the oils.

"I learned that there are 15 different types of eucalyptus and there is a lot of stuff out there which is very volatile.

"But just working with the people in the Hunter Valley RFS has been great.

"Australia and America have always had a good relationship; yes, our militaries are close but when you boil it down to firefighters it's an even more close-knit group."

Fittingly, as Goodrich bids farewell to Australia this weekend, an additional 71 firefighters from the US and Canada have arrived this week to help with our front line efforts.