Camp Pendleton Fire Department Prepares for Fire Season

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By Sgt. Gabino Perez| Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. —
Preserving and maintaining Marine Corps Base (MCB) Camp Pendleton’s more than 125,000 acres of land is a year-round effort for the Marines and firefighters of the installation. Annual exercises and training programs take place at MCB Camp Pendleton in preparation for the 2019 fire season.

The higher-than-average levels of rainfall in Southern California resulted in increased vegetation growth across the base. When the vegetation dries it becomes highly flammable, raising the threat of wildfire. Firefighters aboard MCB Camp Pendleton take extra measures to ensure they are ready for the 2019 fire season.

“We have found our greatest success early on in the season with controlled-burns on bigger brush. It works really well when things start to get more intense,”

said Captain Ryan Rushing, station captain, Station 10, Camp Pendleton Fire Department, “We’re setting a consumable fire so that when the main body of fire hits it, there’s no more fuel because we already burned it.”

The controlled-burn method is an effective way to safely clear out overgrown grasslands, eliminating fuels from training areas to reduce the risk of a wildfire, and preventing large-scale wildfires in the future.

Firefighters practice many different extinguishing techniques such as progressive hose lays, mobile pumping and controlled-burns to ensure that they are adequately prepared for any fire they face.

The annual requirement for firefighters is a course called RT-130, also known as the Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher. It focuses personnel on operations and decision-making issues related to fire lines and all-hazard incident safety in order to recognize and mitigate risk, maintain safe and effective practices and reduce accidents.

“We use the Geographical Area Coordination Center, or GAAC, website in combination with our yearly RT-130 training to stay up to date on potential threats in our area,” said Rushing.

Every year MCB Camp Pendleton hosts dozer school for firefighters and equipment operators to get hands-on training with equipment. This serves a dual purpose because the operators practice cutting fire breaks for the upcoming fire season and take another step toward the safety of the installation.

“This year, we have people from as far up as Alameda County, near San Francisco, coming for dozer school and I think that’s great for them as well as us,” said Rushing.

This year’s increased participation in cutting out fire breaks on the base helps with potential large-scale wildfires.

Whether it is disposing of charcoal properly or putting cigarette butts in their designated areas, everyone on MCB Camp Pendleton can do their part to ensure that the Camp Pendleton Fire Department can focus on our safety in a bigger scale.

For more on Wildland Fire Information and Prevention please visit, https://pendleton.marines.mil/Wildland-Fire-Information-Prevention/

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