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Camp Pendleton hosts regional fire school


Last updated 5/28/2019 at 8:30am

Over 200 firefighters with the U.S. Forest Service, Orange County Fire Authority, Cal Fire and local San Diego County agencies gathered at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton to participate in wildfire firefighting methods training, June 5, 2017.

Sgt. Gabino Perez

Marine Corps Installations West – Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

Preserving and maintaining U.S. Marine Corps Base 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 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 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 (prescribed) burns on bigger brush. It works really well when things start to get more intense," Capt. Ryan Rushing, the station captain for Station 10 with the Camp Pendleton Fire Department, said. "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 prescribed burn method is an effective way to safely clear out overgrown grasslands, eliminating fuels from training areas to reduce the risk of wildland fire,and preventing large-scale wildland fires 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," Rushing said.

Every year Camp Pendleton hosts bulldozer school for firefighters and equipment operators to get hands-on training with equipment. This training 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," Rushing said.

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

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

For more on Wildland Fire Information and Prevention, visit


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