|Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne thanks Australian firefighters Neil Cooper, Hilton Taylor and David Ingram who recently traveled to the United States to assist U.S. firefighters in battling wildland fires in the West. Kempthorne, joined by U.S. Ambassador Robert McCallum, expresses appreciation at a May 4 meeting at the Ambassador's Residence, U.S. Embassy, Canberra, Australia.|
CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne today in Canberra, Australia, met and personally thanked Australian firefighters who recently traveled to the United States to assist U.S. firefighters in battling wildland fires in the West. Kempthorne, joined by U.S. Ambassador Robert McCallum, expressed appreciation to Neil Cooper, Hilton Taylor and David Ingram during a meeting at the Ambassador's Residence at the U.S. Embassy in the Australian capital city.
In 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2006, Australian firefighters were deployed to assist their U.S. counterparts in suppressing wildland fires in Colorado, California, Washington, Oregon, Montana and Idaho. In 2006, 114 American firefighters from the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, reciprocated, assisting Australian counterparts in firefighting efforts in the state of Victoria. The exchange of firefighters is a result of a cooperation agreement between the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and participating Australian fire agencies.
"These men and women who traveled from Australia to the United States to assist our firefighting efforts deserve our thanks for risking their lives with such bravery and such professionalism," Kempthorne said. "This cooperation in firefighting is just one example of the close U.S.-Australia relationship that so often results in the United States and Australia standing side-by-side."
Kempthorne is leading a Presidential Delegation to Australia to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea.