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    Camp Pendleton and CAL FIRE conduct aerial firefighting exercise

    Camp Pendleton and CAL FIRE conduct aerial firefighting exercise

    Photo By Cpl. Shaltiel Dominguez | CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - An MH-60 drops water in a mock fire area during an aerial...... read more read more



    Story by Cpl. Shaltiel Dominguez 

    Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

    CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - Aviation and ground units from Camp Pendleton, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Navy Region Southwest, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and the San Diego Sheriff’s Department participated in an aerial firefighting exercise at Las Pulgas Lake here, April 30.

    The exercise was the eighth iteration of its kind and showcased the employment of trained and certified military and civilian personnel using aircraft to combat wildland fires in the region.

    “This annual event is an opportunity for CAL FIRE to come out and participate with the military, because we rely on them during major wildland fires,” said Kendal Bortisser, public information officer with CAL FIRE. “When all private resources are committed, we can coordinate with them to conduct water drops and combat wildland fires.”

    The training involved the use of a UH-1Y "Huey," the CH-53 "Super Stallion" and the MV-22 "Osprey." Each helicopter was equipped with a water delivery system, commonly known as the "bucket," capable of carrying up to 420 lbs. of water.

    “These exercises give us the opportunity to train together, so that when disaster strikes, we’re all on the same page with the same frequencies and everybody understands their roles and responsibilities despite using different assets,” added Bortisser.

    The Aerial Fire Attack used 3rd MAW, and Third Fleet air assets, operating the same way they would as if the Camp Pendleton Fire Department were requesting support for a real wildland fire.

    “It’s a demonstration of the partnerships we’ve developed between the Marines and the Navy as a team in support of CAL FIRE,” said Lt. Col. Austin Miller, air coordination officer with Marine Corps Installations – West. “The exercise increases the interoperability between the different organizations, and it creates a safer environment for us to work together in the event of an actual fire.”

    One of the main teaching points in the exercise is communication. The process of combating the fires using mutual aid assets requires the personnel involved to speak the same language, said Lt. Cmdr. Renee May, naval aviator at the exercise.

    “Communication is the most important thing and, over the years, the communications between the military and our assets have immensely improved,” said John Francois, aviation chief, CAL FIRE San Diego. “Now we have military coordinators who train to coordinate with military assets through proper communication. We’ve become much more cohesive and effective."

    The event is an annual training requirement that certifies Marine and Navy pilots for aerial firefighting operations and is intended to increase the interoperability between the agencies and services involved.

    “It’s important to be proficient in our firefighting capabilities so that in the event of a fire, we’ll be able to give back to the community that gives to us,” said Petty Officer Berk Tarleton, a naval air crewman at the exercise. “It’s especially important for the families that support us back home while we’re serving our country.”



    Date Taken: 05.01.2015
    Date Posted: 05.01.2015 16:05
    Story ID: 161991
    Location: CAMP PENDLETON, CA, US 

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