Tuesday, April 8, 2014

County Firefighters Prepare for the Wildfire Season

Viejas Reservation, CA -

Firefighters from all over San Diego County recently took part in the S.D. County Wildland Fire Preparedness Exercise at the Viejas Indian Reservation in Alpine. The annual drill was hosted over three days finishing up on April 7, 2014.

The all-day drill gives the local fire service a chance to focus on the unique skillsets required to mitigate fire in the wildland and wildland-urban interface areas our county is well known for. This comprehensive training is the result of hundreds of hours of planning and preparation by a dedicated group of fire professionals representing federal, state, and local agencies. Its three-day format allows for the attendance of a wide cross-section of fire agencies with myriad work schedules.

Unique to this particular drill is that it is dispatched as an "incident" with resources grouped in the familiar "strike team" and "task force" configurations used in actual local and state mutual aid incidents. Assigned resources respond to the incident base and receive a briefing on the daily Incident Action Plan (IAP) before heading to their assignments. The IAP for the drill consisted of three Branches, each offering practice on important wildland firefighting skills.

In addition to the ground forces, three Type II helicopters were assigned to the incident. From the helibase, they were dispatched by Incident Communications to assist the Branches from the air. Each copter made several water drops to practice this important fire control skill.

Providing support to the incident this year were Lakeside's Logistics Volunteer Group (LVG). Wearing their familiar light blue duty shirts, they provided hydration and shade and made themselves available to assist the incident Logistics Section with other needs that came up.

During this year's drill, all personnel took some time to reflect on the tragedy of last year's loss of nineteen firefighters from the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew during the Yarnell Hill fire near Prescott, Arizona. It was a sad reminder to all of the dangerous nature of fighting fire in the wildland environment.

Crews assemble for the incident briefing.

Incident Commander Brad Rushing (Alpine F.D.) addresses the troops.
Lakeside Logistics Volunteers support the incident. I think their sign says it all!
Central Zone Strike Team 6441C.
Engineer-Paramedic Chris Downing (l) and Firefighter-Paramedic Gavin Doudna on LKS Brush 1.
San Diego Fire-Rescue Copter 1 leaves the incident helibase.
Lakeside Logistics Volunteers providing support to Branch II.

Post and Photos by: Captain Scott Culkin, Lakeside Fire District.

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