Camp Pendleton Firefighters Practice High-Rise Exercise

By Cpl. Michelle Brinn

Emergency sirens blared through the streets of Camp Pendleton and could be heard for miles as the fire trucks approached the Naval Hospital in response to a potentially fatal incident, May 19.

But no worries, there wasn’t an emergency.

More than 50 firefighting personnel from local and base units came together to participate in a simulated high-rise fire training activity.

“This was the first high-rise activity we’ve had on base and we were able to incorporate other agencies to participate,” said Carlos Camarena, Camp Pendleton Fire and Emergency Services’ fire captain and coordinator of the event. “It’s important to see how these guys all work together and communicate with each other.”

The purpose of the training was to have outside agencies from Encinitas, Solona Beach, Oceanside, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Rincon, Carlsbad, San Marcos and Del Mar respond to a simulated fire on base that could not be contained by base units.

The pseudo-scenario took place on the sixth floor of the Naval Hospital in the mechanical room. Firefighters quickly responded to an emergency call and proceeded to ventilate the stairwells and make their way up to the scene.

After providing a search-and-rescue to ensure the safety of others, the firefighters used multiple techniques and strategies to extinguish the fire and return to safety.

“[Conducting high-rise drills] present unique situations that you don’t encounter in one and two story buildings,” said Les Lang, North County Fire Communications fire dispatcher and 911 operator. “That’s why it’s important we practice these scenarios with the crews. They positively ventilated the staircases and then found and attacked the fire. That’s exactly what we like to see.”

After completing the exercise, the units came together to collectively discuss the outcome of the training activity.

“The [different] department interaction was great,” said Camarena. “There is always room for improvement, but overall we did a fabulous job communicating and laying down the foundation for any future emergencies that could arise.”

The Camp Pendleton Fire Department plans to host one high-rise fire training activity annually to continue enhancing the relationships with outside agencies, said Camarena.

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