Military and civilian firefighters team up for training 

Military and civilian firefighters team up for training

11 May 2012

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USA — The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL Fire) came together with Marine Corps Instillations West and tenant commands aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton to conduct a Wild land Firefighting Exercise at the Las Pulgas Lake, May 10.

This annual training has been held here since 2008, after severe fires broke out in Oct. 2007.

“Southern California, particularly San Diego County, has a long history of wild land fires,” said Ken Pimlott, the chief of Cal Fire. “Even right here on the base, we had fires in 2003 and a few in 2007.”

CAL Fire’s training of Marines to combat wild fires has become both an asset and a necessity to avoid future incidents; especially in the event of low resources.

“The Marine Corps uniquely has the ability to help us when we are at what we call ‘surge capacity’,” said Pimlott. “When we get really busy and are running low on helicopters, having the ability to reach ot and train Marine pilots to assist with wild land fires is critical.”

According to Brig. Gen. Vincent A. Coglianese, the commanding general of MCI-West, “Fire is a reality within California and we are not only interested in protecting our Marines and their families but also being good neighbors in helping outside the wire if mutual aid is needed.”

With temperatures steadily rising as summer approaches, it is becoming more and more important to take preventative steps.

“Despite the rain we’ve had in March and April, in many places, the state is below 50% of it’s normal rainfall and we’re already seeing many areas of the state that have seen dry vegetation and fires,” Pimlott said. “It’s important that we get the word out about fire conditions in California.”

We have developed a strong and long-lasting relationship with the state and the local fire departments and this exercise is extremely important to continue to build on it, said Coglianese.

“The second part of today was to show what we’re doing to train our pilots and fire department personnel when working with military assets to fight wild land fires,” said Pimlott. “It is incumbent on upon all of us, every year, to ensure that new Marine pilots and new staff are integrated, trained and ready to go when we need their help,”

This training is also a means for trained professionals to promote safety and awareness.

“Today’s event is part of what we’re doing in support of wild fire awareness week,” said Pimlott. “We’re trying to get a message out to the public about fire safety and to demonstrate the preparedness of the fire agencies and the military.”

With Marines and CAL Fire working together, the goal is to use train and sharing technological assets to ensure reduce the risks of potential wild land fires starting.

“That’s what we do as a military,” said Coglianese. “We train for the worst and then we are able to respond with the use of that training.”

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