Two Whanganui firefighters are heading to the challenge of their lives, battling the multiple wildfires raging in Canada.
Fire and Emergency personnel Gavin Pryce and Andy Simons are part of a contingent of 54 firefighters and an 11-strong incident management team that left for Canada yesterday. Another 36 fire personnel are being deployed in the north and northwest of the United States.
"We'll be there up to 42 days so it's a long deployment," Pryce said.
"We'll be doing 14-day shifts with a small break in between. We don't know exactly where we're going yet but we're likely to be staying in fire camps, sleeping in tents, in pretty remote locations.
"It's pretty exciting. It's been said this is the biggest challenge New Zealand firefighters have ever faced. The whole of Canada is at level 5, which is the highest fire danger.
"In British Columbia, where we're heading, there are 412 fires currently burning. There are 520 fires in all of Canada at the moment, so it's huge."
It is the first time Pryce and Simons have been deployed overseas.
Last year Whanganui volunteer firefighter Blair Gray was part of a contingent assigned to the Elephant Hill fire, estimated at nearly 190,000ha in size, in British Columbia.
The New Zealand contingent will be made up of 18 three-person crews who will work on fire suppression.
The incident management team will help with the management of multiple fires.
Members of the group are from Fire and Emergency New Zealand, Department of Conservation, New Zealand Defence Force, forestry companies and contractors.
They will fly to Vancouver to be inducted and briefed before being deployed.