DoD and U.S Northern Command support California firefighting efforts

By NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs | October 24, 2007

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – The Department of Defense is deploying unique military capabilities to support emergency wildfire response efforts in southern California.

The following is a list of DoD or U.S. Northern Command assets and personnel that are supporting the firefighting efforts:

NEW OPERATIONS

  • Navy installations in the San Diego area are providing 8,500 cots to several San Diego County Office of Emergency Management Shelters, including Qualcomm Stadium.
  • Army North is deploying a 13-person Command Assessment Element to Burbank, Calif. ARNORTH provides defense support of civil authorities as the Army component of U.S. Northern Command.

ONGOING OPERATIONS

  • Army Col. Mark Armstrong, Region IX Defense Coordinating Officer, deployed with a five-person Defense Coordinating Element to support the Joint Field Office in Pasadena, Calif.
  • Army Col. Gary Stanley, Region X DCO, deployed with a four-person DCE to support the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. 

DCOs and DCEs work very closely with federal, state and local officials to determine what unique Department of Defense capabilities can be brought to assist in mitigating the effects of a natural or man-made disaster.

  • The National Interagency Firefighting Center has formally requested DoD support for Modular Air Firefighting System (MAFFS) equipped aircraft:
    • DoD received a request from NIFC for C-130 Modular Air Firefighting System (MAFFS) equipped aircraft.
      • Five MAFFS-equipped, Air National Guard C-130 aircraft deployed to Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Calif. and arrived Tuesday afternoon, October 23, 2007. Two are from the 153rd Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard; two are from the 302d Airlift Wing, U.S. Air Force Reserve, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.; and two are from the 145th Airlift Wing, North Carolina Air National Guard.
      • USNORTHCOM has designated Air Forces North as the Joint Force Air Component Commander that will provide command and control coordinating authority over the MAFFS. The JFACC’s intent is to rapidly and effectively support USNORTHCOM’s efforts to NIFC to mitigate the effects of wildland fires. AFNORTH provides a full spectrum of U.S. Air Force air and space capabilities and conducts defense support of civil authorities to assist civil authorities during emergencies, natural or man-made disasters and other approved activities.
  • Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) is assisting the Southern California community coping with the fires with its emergency operations center to organize medical efforts for military personnel, dependents and civilians from other hospitals evacuated from the area. 
  • NMCSD has accepted 38 civilians originally transferred due to civilian hospital closures and evacuations.  In addition, the hospital admitted 28 nursing home patients from Villa Rancho Bernardo.  Naval Hospital Twenty-nine Palms provided 16 staff members to aid in the care of the nursing home patients.  NMCSD has also accepted ten patients from Pomerado Hospital in Escondido and is providing housing for 33 staff members and their families at the hospital. 
  • NMCSD is also making a direct impact in the community by providing primary care and preventive medicine services at seven locations for approximately 2,600 personnel.  The hospital is also replenishing medical supplies for dozens of community members who evacuated their homes without necessary medications.  NMCSD donated 12 wheelchairs to those at Qualcomm Stadium shelter and have volunteers handing out hot meals at the same location. 

Firefighting Support:

  • Under Mutual Aid Agreements or Immediate Response Authority, Navy firefighting efforts in support of CalFire (California Department of Forestry) continued into their third day for air and ground crews combating the Witch and Harris Ranch Fires in San Diego County with 40 Navy-Federal firefighters, firefighting helicopters from HSC 85 based at Naval Air Station North Island and 10 pieces of equipment.
  • Navy Fire & Emergency Services (F&ES) has the following assets deployed:  Naval Air Facility El Centro has one fire truck and four personnel deployed on the Witch Fire.  Naval Base San Diego has one brush truck, two fire engines and 12 personnel deployed.  Naval Base Point Loma deployed one fire engine and four personnel.  Naval Air Station North Island deployed two fire engines, one brush truck, and eight personnel. One fire officer from Navy Region Northwest is also deployed.
  • There are several in-bound Navy assets yet to be assigned.  These include:  Two fire engines, one brush truck, and eight personnel from Naval Base Ventura County, one fire engine and four personnel from Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, one brush truck and three personnel from Naval Air Station Fallon, eight firefighters from Navy Region Mid-Atlantic, four firefighters from Navy Region Midwest, six firefighters and two fire engines from Navy Region Northwest, one fire engine and one Airfield Rescue Fire Fighting Vehicle from Joint Reserve Base Dallas.
  • The Navy is providing two SH-60 helicopters with Forward-Looking Infrared (FLIR) sensors.
  • The Navy is providing two MH-60 helicopters equipped with buckets from Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 85, Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • U.S. Marine Corps installations in the San Diego area have provided one fire truck with four personnel to Ramona Airport, two fire trucks with eight personnel to the Harris Fire and three fire trucks with 12 personnel to the Rice Fire.

Facilities Support:

  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency has asked DoD to identify a military installation in Southern California to be the Forward Staging Area for federal supplies flowing south from the FEMA logistics center at Moffitt Field, Calif. DoD has identified March Air Reserve Base as the FOSA.

DoD personnel in the affected area include nearly 300,000 service members, government employees and their families.

USNORTHCOM, commanded by Gen. Gene Renuart and headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo., is the unified combatant command responsible for defending the homeland and providing defense support of civil authorities. The DoD can bring additional capabilities as part of a larger federal response when requested by the state and approved by the Secretary of Defense.

USNORTHCOM anticipates requests, actions and requirements to support developing situations.  Its subordinate commands are Joint Forces Headquarters National Capital Region, Joint Task Force Alaska, Joint Task Force Civil Support, Joint Task Force North and Standing Joint Force Headquarters North.