Story by Sgt Gabino Perez on 06/04/2019MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, California Camp Pendleton's 125,000 acres of land consists of housing, Navy and Marine Corps facilities and vast training areas with open terrain. This unique space is prime for training warfighters and, coincidentally, firefighters. The annual Wildland Fire School began June 3, 2019, on Marine Corps Base (MCB) Camp Pendleton. Numerous federal and local firefighting agencies came together for this training exercise to gain experience in fighting wildland fires.
"This unique training affords an opportunity that you may not get anywhere else, especially here in California," said Chief John Crook, deputy chief, Camp Pendleton Fire Department (CPFD). "To be able to put fire on the ground and train firefighters in suppression is very critical and paramount when it comes to the fire season."
The school gives firefighters the opportunity to work together and train using prescribed fires in a controlled environment. The "prescribed fire" method is an effective tool in safely clearing out overgrown grasslands, eliminating fuels from training areas and preventing large-scale wildland fires in the future.
"There's an excess of 20 different fire departments from across California from as far north as Ventura County all the way south to the border," said Crook. "Every year the school gets better and better, with more and more agencies asking to take part in it because of what Camp Pendleton can provide."
CPFD, Orange County Fire Authority, California's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and several other fire agencies participated in the school. The training enhanced their skills in communication, fire behavior and suppression methods while also enabling them to learn to work together as a unit and with other agencies, as well.
"To be better prepared in our jurisdiction and respond to wildland emergencies, we get a chance to come out to Camp Pendleton to hone our craft because we get to actually practice in a wildland environment." Said Chief Albert Ward, battalion chief, Los Angeles Fire Department.
Due to the heavy seasonal rain causing an excess growth of vegetation throughout the region, fire agencies anticipate this upcoming fire season will start sooner than later, according to Crook.
While CPFD and its partners ensure that they are ready for the approaching fire season, officials recommend base residents take necessary precautions to ensure readiness in the event of any natural disaster. According to Ward, preparedness and practice are the key to any event, having a plan and practicing it as if it were second nature will enable you to know what to do.
For more information on wildland fire information and prevention, please visit https://pendleton.marines.mil/Wildland-Fire-Information-Prevention/