CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Local Marines recently deployed to fight on home turf. Their mission is to safely combat wild fires on federal lands in Salmon, Idaho. It is not unprecedented for military units to be called in on such a case. In 1996, Marines responded to a similar alarm and supported firefighting efforts in Oregon.
Approximately 410 Marines for 3RD Battalion, 2ND Marine Regiment, 2ND Marine Division, 80 Marines from 10TH Marines and 100 Marines from 2 ND Assault Amphibian Battalion deployed last week at the request of the National Interagency Firefighting Center (NIFC). These Marines will join 1,674 personnel already battling a blaze that has engulfed 198, 254 acres and consumed $38.1 million.
The Marines were outfitted with basic gear that included fire-resistant boots, trousers, shirts, gloves, hard hats, a backpack and "fire shelter" tent and were given classroom instruction. NIFC military instructors briefed the Marines on fire terminology, fire fighting command organization, fire characteristics, situational awareness and firefighter safety.
These instructors have been assigned to a 12-15 man squad and will guide the Marines when directly involved in firefighting. In Marine Corps fashion, the squads are divided into three "fire" teams and most squads have an engineer and a corpsman.
The Marines involved expressed their enthusiasm to accept the mission as a great service to the nation and fellow citizens. The deployment could last 30 days or until the fires are suppressed.