Members of the Navy, Marines, Cal Fire and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department participated in a coordinated aerial firefighting exercise Thursday in Camp Pendleton.
More than eight years ago, the agencies began working together in annual training exercises. The exercises prepares members of the agencies to fight potential wildfires in the San Diego County.
The agencies worked together in a wildfire simulation to set up ground teams and conducted water bucket operations.
But prior to 2008, there was not a combined effort to combat wildfires in the county, especially during the 2003 and 2007 wildfires.
“This is a resource that we’re fortunate to have here in San Diego County that we get on the phone with Navy and the Marines, Cal Fire and they’re talking and they go through a checklist. And they say, okay have all the conditions been met,” said Captain Kendal Bortisser from Cal Fire.
“And so all of that red tape has been cut through and we can get them up and flying in a matter of hours as we saw during the May wildfire. So, we had 30 to 40 military helicopters fighting those fires.”
Members of Cal Fire and the Military say this training is critical. It breaks down barriers and helps them coordinate efforts to fight wildfires, as they did in May 2014.
The training also falls during Wildfire Awareness Week.
As part of the activities for the week, local, state, federal and military firefighting personnel met with elected officials to discuss wildfire preparations and remind the public to be ready in case of a fire.