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Mid-Atlantic Firefighters Lend a Hand During San Diego Fires

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS071101-05
Release Date: 11/1/2007 8:46:00 AM

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Ira Elinson, Commander, Navy Region Southwest Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- When the initial call for firefighters was requested to augment crews battling blazes in Southern California, eight members of Navy Region Mid-Atlantic (CNRMA) fire districts answered the call.

Battalion Chief Kenny Russell, who answered the request for volunteers, assembled a team carrying their turnout suits, boots, helmets and air packs, and a wide assortment of personal gear, and departed Naval Air Station Oceana by a Military Airlift Command flight Oct. 23.

"We really didn't know what we were going to do or where we were going to work, so some of us brought sleeping bags," said Russell.

After arriving at Naval Air Station North Island (NASNI) the team was dispersed to stations at NASNI, Marine Corps Recruit Depot and Naval Base Point Loma, backfilling their calls.

"They were very glad to see us," said Russell, who worked out of Station 1 at NASNI. "They gave us a tour of the facilities for familiarization, took us into their homes and treated us well."

While in San Diego County, the CNRMA team manned the stations to protect their facilities and trained alongside local firefighters.

"We aren't trained to handle the types of fire that destroyed much of the area," said Russell, "but we were ready to assist in any way."

Only one of the firefighters had any experience deploying for an emergency, Lt. William Stratton of Contact Combat Direction Systems Activity Dam Neck. Stratton had helped with relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005.

With most of the fires contained, the team was given a day off before boarding a flight home, Oct. 31, each confident that if they needed help, the brotherhood of firefighters would respond as they did.

"When someone needs us, we come," said Russell.

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