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Vandenberg Fire Department to Conduct Prescribed Burns Multiple Times in June

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ryan Quijas
  • Space Launch Delta 30 Public Affairs

The Vandenberg Space Force Base Fire Department will conduct training and prescribed burns June 15 and 16 and again June 20 to 30, 2023. The burns will cover approximately 10 acres of grassland and coastal sage scrub located on Watt and 13th Street on the Northside of the base.

These controlled burns are part of the fire department's Wildland Fire Academy and will involve multiple training evolutions ranging in size from half an acre to one acre. Operations will continue throughout the day until training objective completion. The training enhances the skills of newly assigned firefighters and bulldozer operators in handling wildland fires.

U.S. Space Force Col. Robert Long, Space Launch Delta 30 commander, authorized the training and prescribed burns. "Periodic prescribed burns are required to effectively manage our natural resources, in accordance with SLD 30’s Wildland Fire Management Plan,” explained Long. "Over the past 40 years, SLD 30 has successfully completed more than 60 prescribed burns, covering over 6,000 acres. These burns are scheduled at least 30 days in advance, with narrow time windows subject to weather conditions and Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District permit requirements."

Jesse Hendricks, Vandenberg Hand Crew superintendent, emphasized the importance of these burns for training purposes. "The goal of these fires is to train newly assigned firefighters and bulldozer operators in combating wildland fires," he said. "There is no substitute for live-fire training, as classroom simulations cannot provide the same level of situational awareness required to combat an actual wildland fire."

Safety remains the top priority during the burns, and the Vandenberg Fire Department is working closely with the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District to ensure the safety and security of base personnel and surrounding communities. A comprehensive smoke management plan is in place, which includes the deployment of downwind smoke monitors and temporary air monitors at the nearest receptors. Roadways affected by heavy smoke will be marked with signs indicating "Caution/Smoke Possible/Prescribed Fire Ahead" to alert drivers.

In light of the burns and potential smoky conditions, the Vandenberg Fire Department advises base personnel and community members to limit their time outdoors. Drivers should exercise caution when traveling on roadways impacted by smoke. Individuals with concerns about smoke or related inquiries are encouraged to contact the Vandenberg Emergency Communication Center at 805-606-5380.