Eastern Region's Director of Fire and Aviation on Assignment in Australia

Firefighters in AustraliaMiller, who brings 34 years of experience in fire, is serving on a 41-person fire team in Victoria as an agency representative and a liaison between the state of Victoria and U.S. Fire personnel. The team is made up entirely of U.S. federal firefighters from 17 states representing five federal agencies: the USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service. Other Forest Service Eastern Region staff members on this team include Reggie Bray, a zone fire management officer on the Mark Twain National Forest, and Brian Stearns, a heavy equipment operator on the Huron-Manistee National Forest.

The teams have been on several mop-up operations and have used their extraordinary saw skills to clear large hazard trees to reopen roads after fires have moved through. During an assignment in Anglers Rest, Victoria, they were able to share the good news with a resident who assumed his house had burned that it had, in fact, been saved. He, like all of the people they have met in Australia, was very appreciative of the fire team’s work. According to Miller, “The people of Australia have been so welcoming and supportive of us being here to help. They have welcomed us with applause and genuine appreciation and, in one instance, raised an American flag at a restaurant as we sat down to eat lunch.”

Miller, who serves on the board of directors for the International Association of Wildland Fire, previously worked alongside Australian firefighters when they came to the U.S. to help during significant fire events. “Australians have come to the U.S. to help fight our fires, so it feels good that we can be here to return the favor,” Miller said.

Firefighter on a dirt road in Australia