|Navy, Marine Helicopters Were Not Able To Assist Cal Fire In 2007 Wildfires|
SAN DIEGO -- Navy and Marine helicopters will now be able to help in the event San Diego County is hit with another major wildfire."We just didn't know who to talk to. We hadn't worked with civilian agencies before, but that's what this training is all about," said Capt. J.C. Tiller, a Marine Corps pilot.
Training being held at Camp Pendleton is a three-day evolution to train military pilots in guidelines and protocols with Cal Fire.
"This allows us to plan out ahead of time, and so that in a crisis, we are able to respond," said Capt. Prakash Thomas, the Navy coordinator for the exercise.Using the massive CH-53, the CH-46 and the SH-60 military helicopters, Cal Fire can add to its aerial firefighting assets if disaster thresholds are met without having to wait for clearance."What used to take 24 to 48 hours, now only takes a matter of hours before we call these valuable assets in to help," said Cal Fire Chief Howard Windsor.
The San Diego agreement to allow the military to engage with civilian emergency personnel is believed to be the first of its kind in the country. "The best part about having this agreement in place is that it can be used for an earthquake, tsunami and natural disaster if the situation warrants," Windsor said.
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