Military Units Certified To Help Fight Fires From Above

Pilots Trained For Nine Months With CDF

Navy and Marine pilots conducted training flights Thursday in preparation for future firefighting duties alongside the California Department of Forestry.

The military pilots have completed official CDF helicopter flight training and will now be able to assist in firefighting operations, 10News reported.

Several panels, including the Governor's Blue Ribbon Fire Commission, recommended making military resources more readily available in the event of a major fire in San Diego County.

The recommendations were made in the aftermath of the firestorm that swept through San Diego County last October, charring 376,240 acres.

After nine months of training, the military pilots learned how to coordinate communication and firefighting tactics with CDF pilots.

"We speak in somewhat of a different language and that was one of the biggest things we had to learn was communicating with the CDF," Cmdr. Pete Van Stee said.

The CDF also underwent training to fly with the military.

"Personally, I went through the Navy flight physical and I went through two days of water survival school, being dunked," CDF Battalion Chief Ray Chaney said.

Agencies that cooperated in the training also included the U.S. States Forest Service and Camp Pendleton Fire Department.

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