Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Camp Pendleton’s annual Wildland Firefighting Exercise

Roblar Fire 2016
Photo By Cpl. Tyler Dietrich | Helicopters fill up with water from Lake O’Neill to assist Camp Pendleton Firefighters during the Roblar Fire on Camp Pendleton, Calif., July 22, 2016. The Roblar Fire has burned 2,000 acres and currently at 30% containment. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Tyler S. Dietrich)
CAMP PENDLETON, CA, UNITED STATES
05.02.2017
Story by Gunnery Sgt. Lynn Kinney
Marine Corps Installations West - Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton


Marine Corps Installations West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton’s annual Wildland Firefighting Exercise is, once again, bringing together assets from I Marine Expeditionary Force, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Navy Region Southwest, 3rd Fleet, CAL FIRE and the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, May 1 to 5, to prepare for fire season.

Significant wildland fires throughout San Diego County in October of 2007 lead officials to seek a partnership between military and civilian aviation and firefighting assets to better manage crisis aboard regional military installations and in the surrounding communities.

Though several fires burned during the 2-week, according to CAL FIRE archives, the Ammo Fire alone burned more than 21 thousand acres of Camp Pendleton.

Since then, Camp Pendleton security and safety agencies, and local departments have been working together to streamline response and integrated communication efforts to provide ready, trained and certified military and civilian resources to combat wildland fires in the region, culminating with a cooperative effort to extinguish wildland fires.

According to George Shinrock, MCI-West Fire and Emergency Services program manager, the coordination for Defense Support of Civil Authorities is a year-round mission.

“With ever-changing and rotating personnel, it is important that we maintain communication and exercise the methodology and allow those decision makers the opportunity to [make the call to] get aircraft to respond,” said Shinrock.

All regional agencies participating have a vested interest in honing the relationships in preparation for what could be a heavy fire season, said Shinrock, career fire fighter and retired Marine, stressing the importance of Camp Pendleton’s training areas to I MEF’s ability to deploy it’s global force.

“While the recent rains were great for the region and have resulted in a very nice Spring, it is a part of the natural life cycle. Fire is also a part life cycle, when (the vegetation) dies off,” said Isaac Sanchez, the public information officer with CAL FIRE. “There has been a massive increase in grass here in San Diego County, increasing the threat of a catastrophic fire. It just adds more fuel.”

Sanchez highlighted the uniqueness of the relationships between the organizations participating in the exercise.

“All these agencies are eager to maintain open lines of communication to ensure the process is known and can be implemented in an efficient manner,” said Sanchez of the flow in which requests are routed from civil agencies to regional military units and installations.

“We are all working to combat the ravages of wildfires, both on and off the installations in the region,” said Shinrock, explaining how all these communities are affected by wildfires, from traffic on Interstate-5, to the rail line that travels through part of Camp Pendleton-which can all have direct off-base effects.