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Welcome to Pendleton: MCB Camp Pendleton Fire Department

Welcome to Pendleton: MCB Camp Pendleton Fire Department

With approximately 70,000 Marines and families living on the installation, Camp Pendleton is a self-sufficient small community in the middle of San Diego county. The community takes pride in having some of the best services and organizations know in the Department of Defense. One of these organizations is the MCB Camp Pendleton Fire Department.

The MCB Camp Pendleton Fire Department opened its doors in 1942. Since then, the department’s personnel have been in charge of ensuring that the families on the installation can rest easy and stay safe. To keep fires from running into residential areas or into the surrounding communities, the department cuts roughy 200 acres of firebreaks each year. In 2016, the fire department was named the DOD fire department of the year, and was responsible for more than 3,700 emergency responses.

“Our true mission is to support the warfighter,” said John Crook, the deputy chief with the Camp Pendleton Fire Department. “The training mission requires this service to support the warfighter and maintain the safety of their families.”

The department has 11 stations on the installation and over 100 firefighters. The stations are all equipped with standard firefighting equipment, but some are strategically placed around the base and carry specialized gear for the areas they are in. The stations located closer to training areas are equipped with vehicles and equipment that would be used for wildland fires, but stations stationed near housing communities and Interstate Highway 5 are equipped with more rescue and aid equipment.

Each firefighter in the department is trained in emergency medical services, firefighting skills and hazardous material operations at a minimum, but firefighters will continue to train and receive other certifications and qualifications while on the job at MCB Camp Pendleton. Through experience and additional certifications the firefighters may be in charge of paramedics or vehicle operations. The firefighters are in charge of providing medical aid and transportation for vehicle accidents, sports injuries, training incidents or any other medical emergencies, so it is important that the department stays up to par with any training they may need.

During their first year working on Camp Pendleton, a firefighter must complete a career development plan. The material gone over during the first year reiterates the basics to ensure nothing was forgotten from their schooling. Training is crucial because they are expected to respond to wildfires along with being first responders for other types of emergencies on MCB Camp Pendleton.

MCB Camp Pendleton facilitates training for the Camp Pendleton Fire Department and several surrounding agencies. The impact zones and training areas allow for unique wildland fire training opportunities. This allows for interagency training and it also creates a strong bond with departments in the surrounding communities.

“Through mutual aid, we support each other,” said Crook. “Its unique here because the real estate we have allows us to provide wildland fire training.”

When not actively engaged on a call, conducting training or cutting firebreaks, the personnel stay in the station, preparing gear, cooking meals and enjoying each other’s company. The department values camaraderie because during a fire the firefighters must trust that each individual will perform their tasks successfully.

“We are always happy to get together when we get a chance,” said Joe Laparl, a firefighter with Camp Pendleton Fire Department. “We are especially grateful to get together at the end of the day for dinner at the station during fire season.”

Working together in 48-hour shifts, the teams commonly build bonds and share stories. Though there are no active duty service members among the department, there are many veterans from all branches of service. On occasion, the Camp Pendleton Fire Department will employ Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Marines stationed on Camp Pendleton after their end of active service.

“Prior to joining the Marine Corps, being a firefighter was always something I wanted to do,” said Nicholas Potthast, a firefighter with Camp Pendleton Fire Department. “After I got out, I decided to make firefighting a career.”

The Camp Pendleton Fire Department is an essential part of the mission accomplishment for Marines on MCB Camp Pendleton. With the men and women of the department on watch, Pendleton Marines can continue to train without fear of fires.

Story by: 2 AUG 2019 | Lance Cpl. Drake NickelsMarine Corps Installations West

Originally Published here>>

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Daniel Miller - April 10, 2020

I was stationed aboard Camp Pendleton during the summer of 1976 with the Fifth Marine Regiment, Golf 2/5 at Margarita area. We were training in the “Back” country when someone with a gas grenade pulled the pin and threw it under one of the tracks we rode up in. The tracks were parked in some heavy dry grass and needless to say that caught fire mighty quick. The track driver jumped back into his track and got out of the fire while he still could. All the units that were training that day with us had to dawn masks and turned to to fight the fire which got out of hand in a hurry. That fire got big FAST! We got back to Margarita, showered then got on the road for liberty. I drove home to Ontario So. Cal. and when I walked in the house my Dad, U.S.M.C. 1942-1945, asked me “What the hell did you guys do, today?” He told me to look at the news on T.V. and when I did, I was surprised how big it got. Thank God for that fire dept. They did a magnificent jobs.

Daniel - April 10, 2020

While stationed at MCRD in 68, I knew a heavy equipment operator who told me that part of the training the new operators got was to cut firebreaks, especially on the hills. Later when stationed at Pendleton in 69-70, these firebreaks were very visible in many areas. Considering all the live fire training that goes on year around, these operators, and the Fire Dept deserve kudos for their hark work.

Gary 0302 - April 10, 2020

When I was C.O. of A Company, 1/28,5th MarDiv, we were on stand-by for the Western White house in San Clemente whenever President Nixon was there. When a brush fire broke out in the Christianitos Area, the Bn C.O. ordered us to change from our best utilities and boots to our worst to help put out the rapidly growing fire. Good thing that there were no protesters that day. It would have been a drill to see how quickly we could return to the battalion area, change into our best utilities and boots, and board 6
by’s to head for the southernmost point of San Clemente, the Western White house. It wasn’t long after that when the 5th MarDiv was deactivated, probably to never be activated again. Semper fidelis.

Joseph Talamini Cpl 78-84 - April 10, 2020

God bless the Marines, their families,and the brave souls that protect them from fire.
Semper Fi

David W Spear 1416543 - April 10, 2020

I was in the Heavy Equip. section of Base Maint. in 1954-55. We cut firebreaks and fought fire in the “back” country with wore out TD-18 International dozers. Even had my photo in the Leatherneck.

Michael L Watts - April 10, 2020

They also have some converted M-54`s to fight the grass fires on the ranges. And when I was stationed there (I was stationed there twice) My unit from 7th Engineers would also help them by maintaining the fire breaks.

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