First deployment of firefighter return from Oz

Firefighter Kenneth Keenan. Photo: RNZ/Dan Cook.

The first group of firefighters deployed to Australia to help fight bushfires have returned.

Twenty-one New Zealand firefighters landed at Auckland airport on Monday evening after a two-week deployment.

Kenneth Keenan, from Invercargill, says firefighting techniques, such as backburning, could be used more widely in this country.

"We learnt a lot this deployment because the fire behaviour is so different to what it normally is. Things are happening that the locals aren't expecting and we're the same, so we're following their lead pretty much.

"It was exciting and hard work and we've learnt a lot to take back home and ... if we can come back we'll use that knowledge again."

He says backburning could be employed in New Zealand more often to battle large-scale fires.

"It's another tool in the box we could use."

The group returning on Monday didn't see too much action during their deployment, however, there were two days when they were near an intense fire near Canberra where they were managing the cordon restricting access to the fire area.

Many were keen to return to help out again.

New Zealand has sent more than 200 firefighters across the ditch since October.


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