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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

"The West Coast's Premier Fleet Marine Force Training Base"

Preparing for Wildfires, Week One: Evacuation Plans and Emergency Preparedness Kits

By Lance Cpl. Asia Sorenson | Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton | April 21, 2020


Fire season is fast approaching and while training areas are at the highest risk for fires, areas of the base with overgrown vegetation are also at risk during dry spells of weather.

Every year, Camp Pendleton firefighters extinguished approximately 101 wildfires on base. Last year, more than 6,743 acres of land burned in 2019.

In our Always Prepared series, we give information on wildfires that occur on base and what you can do to mitigate the damage caused by them.

Week One of our Always Prepared series focuses on Evacuation Plans, Evacuation Centers and Emergency Preparedness Kits.

Evacuation Plans and Evacuation Centers

“Emergency Services will work with the Emergency Operations Center to coordinate the details of an evacuation plan during the case of the wildfire,” said Chief Robert Johnson, Deputy Chief for Fire Prevention at Camp Pendleton’s Security & Emergency Services Section.

For the May 2014 Fire that started at the Naval Weapons Center near Fallbrook, residents of the De Luz and O’Neill Housing Areas were evacuated to the Paige Fieldhouse. Information was disseminated by the Emergency Operation Center, and Provost Marshal’s Office military police were utilized to let people know they needed to be evacuated. The EOC also utilized the “Giant Voice”, a system of speakers on base to inform residents of the evacuation plan.

In case of an emergency, Johnson urges families to bring the essentials: medication, food and water, blankets. Some of this stuff may be provided at the evacuation center. The EOC will coordinate an evacuation plan for students on and off-base depending on the situation. Normally, PMO will provide sentry and direction to incoming personnel to make sure roads are not crowded and that emergency vehicles can go to and from housing areas. He also advises evacuees to call the evacuation center to ensure that small pets are allowed.

Fire Preparedness Kit

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has outlined how to put together a Fire Preparedness kit on their website at http://www.readyforwildfire.org/ They recommend that the emergency supply kit is put together long before a wildfire occurs and to keep it accessible so that it can be easily retrieved in case of an evacuation.

They recommend using backpacks for storing these items (except food and water) as they are quick to grab. Storing food and water in a tub or chest on wheels will make it easier to transport. Keep the packs light enough to be able to lift it into your car.

Emergency Supply Kit Checklist:

• Three-day supply of non-perishable food and three gallons of water per person.

• Map marked with at least two evacuation routes

• Prescriptions or special medications

• Change of clothing

• Extra eyeglasses or contact lenses

• An extra set of car keys, credit cards, cash or traveler’s checks

• First aid kit

• Flashlight

• Battery-powered radio and extra batteries

• Sanitation supplies

• Copies of important documents (birth certificates, passports, etc.)

• Don’t forget pet food and water!

• Always keep a sturdy pair of shoes and a flashlight near your bed and handy in case of a sudden evacuation at night

In addition to building an emergency supply kit, they urge evacuees to develop a Family Communication Plan that designates an out-of-area friend or relative as a point of contact to act as a single source of communication among family members in case of separation. It is easier to call or message one person and let them contact others than to try and call everyone when phone, cell, and internet systems can be overloaded or limited during a disaster. Johnson also advises residents to sign up for the Emergency Notification System to get updates on your mobile phone and/or e-mail at: http://entry.inspironlogistics.com/camp_pendleton/wens.cfm.

“The best plans are the ones well-prepared long in advance,” said Johnson. “Know what to do, where to go, what you need to take with you when you leave and making sure that when you do leave your residence due to an evacuation, you can make contact with your family members. Let them know what your conditions are and where you’re located.”