Fire Corps

FIRE CORPS: CITIZEN SUPPORT FOR LOCAL FIRE DEPARTMENTS

In today’s world of increasing call volumes, new and complex threats, and the training required to respond to them, many fire departments of all types and sizes are asking one common question; how do we handle the day in, day out administrative and support tasks with the people we have under these new conditions? One answer is Fire Corps. Launched in December 2004, Fire Corps is a program partner of Citizen Corps, President George W. Bush’s grassroots effort to involve everyone in making communities across America safer, stronger and better prepared for emergencies of all kind.

Citizen Corps is a component of USA Freedom Corps, the President’s effort to encourage volunteer service and to promote a culture of service, citizenship, and responsibility. Fire Corps itself is a partnership between the International Association of Fire Chief’s Volunteer and Combination Officers Section (IAFC/VCOS), the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), and the U. S. Fire Administration (USFA), with a mission of helping career, volunteer and combination fire departments supplement existing providers by recruiting “citizen advocates” to help. The partnership between the four groups is important as each represents an important and diverse part of the fire service.

As the lead federal agency, USFA provides oversight and direction to the program, manages the funding stream and is actively involved in the National Advisory Committee. IAFC/VCOS, IAFF and NVFC all have important roles to play, be it in program coordination, development of technical resources or working to promote the program to their members. Since each partner’s constituent base is very different (career and volunteer, firefighters and chief officers) the program will be presented to the fire service through the efforts of the partners in ways that have the greatest impact.

The program benefits in an urban all-career department will be different than those in a rural all-volunteer department. Because it is intended for the Fire Corps to be a program to assist all operational fire service organizations, the cooperation between the partners in developing and distributing materials for Fire Corps is important to its success. Fire Corps will help fire departments expand programs they have or assist in creating new programs to bring interested citizens who want to give their time and talents to the fire service in non-operational roles.

The Fire Corps web site, www.firecorps.org, is where fire departments can register and be listed as having Fire Corps programs. Citizens can use the site to search for Fire Corps opportunities at their local fire departments and to learn about the program. In addition to the on-line database, Fire Corps will offer a series of resources, including marketing materials, a technical resource guide and a means to interact with other Fire Corps programs to exchange ideas and information.

But who are these ‘citizen advocates’ and what can they do for a fire department? A citizen advocate is a member of the public who assists your fire service organization in some non-operational role. Examples of these roles include but are not limited to administrative functions, life-saving education, fund-raising, canteen services, public relations, and grant writing. A teacher might be involved in life safety education; a writer could help the department with developing press releases. Their role as a member of Fire Corps will be defined by the individual fire departments, according to their needs. One common concern is that citizen advocates will replace paid positions. It is not the intent of the program to replace the current firefighting ranks with Fire Corps citizen advocates. The program will help bring citizens into the fire departments to supplement firefighters by performing non-operational support tasks, thus freeing up the time of the firefighters to accomplish the tasks they are primarily trained to do; fight fires and save lives.

Fire Corps is an exciting new program to help supplement the front line providers in the fire service, provide a base of support personnel to accomplish necessary tasks, and provide a direct connection between your department and the community it serves.

To sign up or to receive more information please visit the FIRE Corp website, or call 202-887-4809