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    CPEN leaders gather for Wild Land Fire Table Top Exercise 2018

    Wild Land Fire Table Top Exercise

    Photo By Cpl. Haley McMenamin | Joe Hammett, 25 and 33 Areas facilities manager, attends the Wild Land Fire Table Top...... read more read more



    Story by Cpl. Desiree D King 

    Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

    In the early hours of Thursday morning Camp Pendleton Fire Department responded to a small vegetation fire which broke out in one of the base's training areas. At 2:00 a.m. the "all clear" was given, and by the time staff arrived for work, the only proof of its existence remained in a notification email, read over a morning cup of coffee.

    2017 was a destructive fire season for California, with expenditures and damage reaching $180 billion and over one million acres burned, of which less than a tenth of a percent originated on Camp Pendleton. As this year's June to October fire season draws closer, leaders attended a bi-annual Wild Land Fire Table Top Exercise on Camp Pendleton, Calif., March 22, 2018, that provides area commanders with an understanding of the installations concept of preparedness, response, and effort in the event of a wildfire.

    Multiple units were in attendance, each providing unique insight into the many aspects of wildfire response. Topics such as the history of fires on and around the base, Camp Pendleton Fire Department's (CPFD) roles and responsibilities and evacuation control were examined critically by those who would be involved in the decision-making processes.

    "This [exercise] is more for the operations officers and commanders to have an awareness of their areas," said CPFD Deputy Fire Chief, Christopher Hubmer. "Now they'll go back to their groups and train their staff and give them expectations going forward."

    Live ammunition training on Camp Pendleton takes place year-round to provide Marines with realistic when in combat environments. The exercises can be a source of concern for neighboring communities, as it holds the potential to start a brush fire, especially during rough weather conditions. Chief Hubmer addressed those concerns during his brief, indicating that CPFD accounts for heightened risk factors by conducting controlled burns. The burns systematically reduce flammable materials like dead brush and trees, essentially depriving a potential fire of fuel after it has burned to a certain point.

    "We burn areas on purpose," Hubmer said, "We make it a safer place, so a potential fire doesn't leave the installation."

    The base also utilizes a five-tiered Fire Danger Rating (FDR) system; low, moderate, high, very high, and extreme. Each tier comes with its own set of cautions and restrictions which provide range control officers, like Joe Vaineharrison, guidance on what types of training can take place in certain weather conditions.

    "We start applying restrictions to what types of ammunition we can or can not shoot," explained Mr. Vaineharrison. "Whether it be tracers or airborne pyrotechnics, restrictions on smoke, artillery simulators, we startrestricting those back as the FDR goes up."

    The table top exercise also featured a guided discussion where leaders briefed the audience on their response tactics in the face of a fire scenario. Not all of the scenarios were hypothetical, and many leaders touched on their respective responses to last December's off-base wildfire in Bonsall, Calif., dubbed the Lilac Fire.

    Although neither Camp Pendleton nor its training was the source of the Lilac Fire, CPFD and Marine Corps assets assisted in battling the flames, which burned 4,100 acres approximately 14 miles outside the San Luis Rey Gate. Camp Pendleton also provided roads of safe travel for evacuees fleeing from neighboring communities and opened its stables to local horse owners as well, garnering national attention.

    "What happens to our base affects our neighbors, and what happens to them affects us," Hubmer stated to the group.

    Each year, Camp Pendleton conducts several training events to remain prepared in the event of a wildfire on the installation or if requested to support firefighting efforts outside of the installation. For more information on upcoming events and wildfire and emergency planning, visit, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.



    Date Taken: 03.29.2018
    Date Posted: 03.30.2018 03:04
    Story ID: 271153
    Location: CAMP PENDLETON , CA, US 

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