California’s Bravest: Joint Wildfire Training Between National Guard, State Guard and CALFIRE

Recently California witnessed a remarkable display of coordination and skill as Army, Air, and State Guardsmen from the California State Guard (State Defense Force) came together with CALFIRE for an intensive wildland firefighting training session. This joint task force training aimed to sharpen their abilities in wildland fire management, focusing on crucial tasks such as water loading and dropping techniques. Such collaborations are vital in gearing up for California’s increasingly challenging wildfire seasons, ensuring that these teams are well-prepared to tackle fires that threaten lives, properties, and ecosystems.

A significant portion of the land-based team involved in this training comprises California State Guardsmen who are veterans of Task Force Rattlesnake. This specialized group has been at the forefront of fighting major wildfires across the state, including the historic August Complex wildfire, one of the largest in California’s history. These State Guardsmen undergo extensive training lasting several months to become certified Wildland firefighters. Each year, they bravely place themselves in dangerous situations to protect both the communities and the natural landscapes of California, demonstrating their commitment and valor in the face of adversity.

California’s finest!🔥💪
California Army, Air, and State Guardsmen joined forces with @calfire for wildland firefighting training over the weekend. Crews honed their skills, loading and dropping water, gearing up for the wildfire season ahead. #wildlandfirefighting #calfire #calguard

CAL FIRE’s MHEM (Military Helicopter Managers) program is a collaborative effort between CAL FIRE and the California National Guard. This program aims to enhance the state’s firefighting capabilities by leveraging military helicopters and personnel during times of heightened wildfire activity.
When multiple wildfires are burning across the state and there is a drawdown on resources, CAL FIRE can call upon the California National Guard to deploy its helicopters and flight crews. A CAL FIRE firefighter will be embedded in the helicopter to coordinate water-dropping missions. The guard can also deploy for crew shuttle, medevac, and rescue missions.
This is an outstanding partnership that continues to grow each year. Each April, those involved with the program meet at Mather Army Aviation Support Facility (MAASF) in Rancho Cordova for an intensive week-long training.
This year, three U.S. Forest Service personnel attended the training, as well as flight crews from the Nebraska and Wisconsin National Guard, and personnel from Maine and New York National Guard. Everyone involved in this program shares a resolve to serve the people of their respective communities and a passion for aviation. #Teamwork #NationalGuard
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