On May 7-9, the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Division 8 partially led the annual SOLAR (San Bernardino, Orange, Los Angeles and Riverside) Tonner Canyon training exercise. This drill takes place every year in May to help foster better communication and partnerships with neighboring agencies who share Tonner Canyon as a common geographical area. Over three days, different agencies gathered in the canyon to participate in a simulated exercise specifically designed to address a dynamic wildland fire incident.
After the Freeway Complex Fire in 2008, agencies representing San Bernardino, Orange, Los Angeles, and Riverside counties met to discuss lessons learned. From this meeting, the agencies formed a mutual-threat working group to address current agency protocols, communication issues, mutual/automatic aid agreements, pre-attack plans and how to improve unified command. The working group also agreed to use the name “SOLAR Plan” when responding to any fire in the mutual-threat zone.
Almost 10 years after the Freeway Complex Fire burned its way into Tonner Canyon, the SOLAR exercise continues to provide agencies with a great opportunity to gather in one venue, operate under one communication plan and one organization with multiple incident commanders, based on unified command.
By providing a realistic venue for fire behavior education and tactical considerations on the fire ground, the goal is for any future incidents in Tonner Canyon to be managed in a seamless, efficient manner.