Whanganui volunteer firefighter Aaron Hartley's first international deployment was an "eye-opener" and an experience he's keen to repeat.

Hartley, who is an arborist, spent two weeks in southwest Tasmania as part of a team fighting the huge Gell River bushfire which was started by a lightning strike.

"The day we arrived the fire covered 19,600 hectares," Hartley said.

"It was forever changing due to the weather conditions. It was hot and dry - up to 37 degrees. We worked 12-plus hours some days but only eight hours other days as the weather conditions were too dangerous."


The work was varied and Hartley learned some new techniques and tactics.

"We were back burning to eliminate the fuel ahead of the fire - we don't usually do that in New Zealand that much," he said.

"In Aussie they do quite a lot of fuel reduction. We set up sprinkler systems to protect certain structures and they were trying a new tactic of wrapping some structures in a tinfoil protective layer. That was in a heritage area with Aboriginal artefacts, old trees and huts and a visitation centre. They did it just before we came home so I don't know if it was successful.

"I learned some little tactical things that I want to share with our fire force at some stage."

Hartley has been a volunteer rural firefighter for nearly 10 years. His Australian deployment was the first time he had ever been overseas and he is keen to do more.

"It was very hot but it was enjoyable and definitely an eye-opener," he said.

"I felt proud being a Kiwi over there helping out."