Cal Fire trains Marines to combat Wild Land Fires

Cal Fire trains Marines to combat Wild Land Fires

SSgt Brian Dinning monitors the firebucket as it fills with water during the 6th annual aerial Wild Land Fire Fighting exercise here May 9. Dinning is a crew chief with Marine Medium Helicopter Training Squadron-164 with the air station. Photo by Cpl Sarah Wolff-Diaz.

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON (May 10, 2013) - Crew Chiefs SSgt Brian Dinning and LCpl Gary Persall count down "Four. Three. Two. One," as Maj Mike Davidge, the pilot of CH-46 E helicopter dubbed "Knightrider," positions it's whirling blades and fire bucket over Lake Talega during the 6th annual Wild Land Fire Fighting Exercise May 9.

Marine Medium Helicopter Training Squardon-164 here with 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, along with Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 3, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 21 and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection extinguished simulated fires during the exercise.

"(The exercise) demonstrates how the world's greatest fighting force and the greatest Navy is going to support the domestic efforts for wild land firefighting both on our installation, and if needed off installation," said LtCol Dana Gemmingen, deputy director of aviation MCI-West. "It also showcases a great partnership between the Cal Fire and other local agencies."

Fire buckets, also known as Bambi Buckets, were attached to the Navy and Marine Corps helicopters. The military aircrafts then followed Cal Fire's Bell 407 helicopter to Lake Talega where they each dropped elevation to fill the buckets with lake water.

Moving in a clock-wise circle the helicopters released the lake water from the buckets over the simulated fire line.

"It's huge to know that we have the surge capabilities from the military here in southern California," said Chief John Winder, assistant deputy director with Cal Fire. "It's truly a model that is being looked at nation-wide as a means for the military to help their local communities."

• Read more about the role of Marine Corps Firefighters

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