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Monday, May 14, 2012

SOLAR Exercise a great success

The fire is reported in northeastern portion of Orange County, California. The arriving units quickly realize that the fast moving flames are a threat to the adjacent counties of Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside. This area is a four corners section of land where all four counties come into contact. As the original responding engines call for resources from CAL FIRE and the other counties, they and all of the incoming fire resources are advised to switch over to the SOLAR Communications Plan.The SOLAR com plan is the result of the communications difficulties that were experienced during the 2008 "Freeway" fire that destroyed or damaged 314 homes primarily in Anahiem Hills and Yorba Linda. Because of those difficulties, The CAL FIRE San Bernardino Unit, Los Angeles County Fire, Orange County Fire Authority, and CAL FIRE Riverside County Fire Department have worked to develop a specific communication plan for utilization in that four corner area that is of concern to everyone.

Again this year, these departments along with other local fire departments have come together to practice wildland fire response utilizing the SOLAR com plan. The three day event from May 9 through 11, was conducted again in Tonner Canyon north of the community Diamond Bar. The exercise is the same each day and tests the firefighters in communications, tactical fire planning, and actual abilities such as hose lays and line construction.
Fire engine crews and fire crews work together in putting this fire out. On one section of this "fire" this year, nearly two thousand feet of hose was laid as the firefighters fought the imaginary flames over the hills. The exercises also include fire fighting helicopters that participate in aerial control and water dropping in support of the fire fighting activities.

This year's exercises brought together more than six hundred firefighters and more than one hundred fire engines. The SOLAR exercise allows the firefighters to work with other firefighters and build experience that cannot be accomplished in any other type of local training. This is also important for fire service leadership who are tasked during the exercise in a variety of fire leadership positions, providing them with valuable real time training as well.