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NZ firefighters arrive in Melbourne to help out

Wednesday 9 Jan 2013 4:58 p.m.

Australian firefighters will be given an extra boost to help battle the bushfires, with 12 New Zealand firefighters scheduled to land in Melbourne tonight.

Firefighters from Nelson and Northland made their final preparations as some embarked on their first overseas deployment.

The team is 11 men and one woman, and they have a dangerous mission – to help fight the fires burning out of control across Australia.

“It's huge,” says firefighter Bill Franklin. “It's overwhelming. I can't really put it into words, what I've seen on TV. It's massive. It's a huge problem over there.”

This will be Mr Franklin's second time firefighting across the Tasman. He was there five years ago for Victoria's bushfires.

“One of the guys who is coming with me from Motueka, he certainly has been asking me a few questions. And I've tried to be as honest and open about it as possible as to what to expect. The main thing is to keep hydrated and listen to what the guys tell you.”

The 12 firefighters flew out of Auckland this afternoon. For the only woman on the trip, it's an experience she can't wait for.

“I love it,” says firefighter Clea Gardiner. “It's nice to be part of the team, and nice that you can do it and be accepted.”

The crew will be deployed in Tasmania. They'll spend the first day becoming familiar with their surroundings, and will remain in Australia for at least 16 days.

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