Military trains for wildfire duty with CalFire

San Diego only county with this unique ability

Camp Pendleton - A joint exercise between CalFire and the military strengthened the fire resources in Southern California Thursday.

With its rotors whipping a lake in a rural area of Camp Pendleton into a frenzy, the crew of a CH-46 helicopter filled a bucket slung underneath it and made a precision water drop on a pre-determined target.  

A Navy MH-60 crew followed right behind.  

The exercise was part of an annual three day re-certification under the direction of CalFire, a process that began in earnest after the 2003, 2007 wildfires in San Diego.  

"There is no other county that has this ability," said Battalion Chief Ray Chaney, the air boss for CalFire.  

With help from the military, CalFire changed the protocols after the 2007 wildfire giving the state fire agency the ability to coordinate military pilots with firefighters by having a CalFire manager airborne in a civilian helicopter.

 As many as eight Navy helicopter crews and 10 Marine Corps crews can be called upon depending on their deployment schedules and other criteria.

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