A CALL is being made for the Welsh Government to assist Australia in fighting the devastating bush fires.

Darren Millar, AM for Clwyd West, said he has been contacted by a number of firefighters from the North Wales Fire and Rescue Service who are keen to fly to Australia to help put out the fires. He is appealing to the Welsh Government to enable this to happen.

Speaking in the Welsh Parliament earlier this month, Mr Millar said: “We’ve all seen the devastating scenes of homes, properties and businesses being destroyed, along with heartbreaking footage of wildlife in Australia in recent weeks as a result of the bushfires which have affected an area larger than the size of Wales. Lives have been lost, including brave firefighters who have been putting their lives at risk for others.

“I’ve been contacted by a number of firefighters for the North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, who, moved with compassion, want to go out and assist their colleagues in Australia in a practical way.

“Having discussed this with them, it would appear that the response of the North Wales Fire and Rescue Service is that they don’t have the resources to enable them to be released.

“Given the links between Wales and Australia, we really ought to stand shoulder to shoulder with the emergency services there so I would urge the Welsh Government to consider making the funds available to send a small team of firefighters made up of personnel from each of Wales’ fire and rescue services to go and assist in the effort.”

The Welsh Government has been approached for comment.

A spokesperson from the National Fire Chiefs Council said: "Following the deployment of a group of specialists – including the UK fire service – to Australia to look at potential support for the devastating wildfires, a range of activities have already taken place.

"The team is carrying out extensive work with Australian fire representatives and authorities to identify if UK fire are needed to offer support on the ground during the coming weeks and months.

"The UK fire service representation is Nick Searle, NFCC’s National Resilience lead - and Deputy Chief Fire Officer of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service. His role will include meeting with local fire and local authorities, while providing expert advice.

"The UK team arrived in Canberra late on Friday January 10 and met with the High Commissioner where they received an update before visiting the Australian Government Crisis Coordination Centre. This also included colleagues from the USA and France.

"The team has been told that it is unlikely the fires can be put out by additional people and Australian authorities feel there are enough firefighters deployed at the current time. Therefore there is no request for further firefighter assistance at the current time.

"However there is appreciation for the UK contingent as part of this specialist team, scoping out potential areas for future assistance."

"At the present time, there are 2,000 firefighters on the ground in New South Wales, while in Victoria, 1,400 have been deployed.

"The next part of the deployment will visit Melbourne where the team will visit the command centre. This will include meeting senior commanders to get an overarching view on any potential future requirements and support which could be provided by the UK.

"Following this, the team travels to Victoria to meet with State level commanders which will give an insight into any additional requirements.

"To date, the wildfires in Australia have claimed 27 lives, 2,300 homes and 7.6 million hectares of land.

"In addition, communities have been isolated and displaced, grazing land and infrastructure has been damaged and livestock lost. There are additional economic and environmental impacts, potential water contamination from deceased livestock and further consequences for wildlife.

"One of the biggest concerns is that there is at least two months of the fire season left and further erratic weather could have major impacts.

"While Australian authorities are comfortable in the short term, there are concerns for the future recovery."

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We would be happy to support our Fire and Rescue Services in assisting their counterparts in Australia. However, the Australian Government has decided not to accept the offer of assistance from the UK at present.”