I went to the fire fighting class today. I guess we won't be as actively fighting the fires as we first thought. We're supposed to leave and help tomorrow. The san diego union tribune did an article where they were talking about us:
By Steve Liewer
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
2:19 p.m. October 25, 2007
The Navy and Marine Corps plan to send a fleet of heavy equipment operators to fire lines in San Diego County in the coming days, officials said Thursday afternoon.
The first of four groups of military personnel received eight hours of training Thursday at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station, said training coordinator Phil Matteson. He is a battalion chief for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
AdvertisementInstructors are focusing on how to maintain safety in fire zones and how to work and communicate within the Cal Fire command structure. Once in the field, the Marines and sailors will perform tasks such as clearing debris.
The service members are heavy equipment operators and mechanics who typically work in military construction units, Matteson said.
“They're highly capable,” he added. “We're going to show them how to operate in a fire area. We're going to teach them how not to get hurt.”
Matteson said they will work only on “cold” fire lines, where flames have been extinguished. Their jobs will include cutting firebreaks and hauling equipment.
Matteson said the military personnel will supplement Cal Fire's own crews and allow others to return to their normal duties so they can prepare to fight future fires.
Forty members of Thursday's first class are Navy Seabees from Amphibious Construction Battalion 1, based at Coronado Naval Amphibious Base. Many are combat veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Capt. Jim Wink, the battalion commander.
Wink said his Seabees built a tent camp Monday for military evacuees temporarily left homeless by the fires. Some of them had to live in the camp as well after the fires forced them to leave their homes.
On Wednesday, they learned that Cal Fire was looking for ground-clearing assistance from the military.
The first group will start work in the fire zones Friday and stay as long as it's needed, Wink said.
“Like everybody else, we're in the community,” he said. “We're hoping to help.”