Fire Corps Signs Up First 250 Fire Departments in Program to Attract "Citizen Advocates" Supporting the Fire/EMS Service
Friday, 17 June 2005
Fire Corps, a newly-formed program partner of Citizen Corps, announces that it has achieved an important milestone: signing up the first 250 fire departments in its "citizen advocates" program. The purpose of the program is to help fire departments expand existing programs – or assist in developing new ones – that recruit citizens who donate their time and talents to support the fire service in non-operational roles.
"We’re very pleased with the number of fire departments that have signed up for the program to date, especially since our first registrants signed on just this past December," notes Shawn Stokes, Fire Corps’ director. "In fact, we’re now nearing 300 departments. But our goal is to grow much larger and to involve as many fire departments as we can throughout the country in this very worthwhile endeavor."
Stokes claims that "the benefits are huge" for fire departments that sign up. The Fire Corps has established a web site (www.firecorps.org), where departments may register and be listed as having a Fire Corps program. Citizens use the site to learn about the opportunity to give of their time and talents, and to search for departments in their area that have particular needs for assistance. Matching registered departments with interested citizens brings a wide variety of skills and talents together in support of the fire service.
Stokes explains that non-operational roles filled by citizen advocates can include functions such as administrative support, life safety education, fundraising initiatives, canteen services, public relations, and even grant-writing support. "There’s a wide variety of support, but the underlying thing is that these individuals provide support in ways that allow department personnel to concentrate on their core duties of fighting fires and protecting the public," he notes.
One example of an all-volunteer department that is already experiencing great benefits from the Fire Corps program is Johnson County RFD #1 Company in Clarksville, Arkansas. Located in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, this department serves a 45-square-mile rural area, and has a lively tradition of community interaction. So far, 47 Fire Corps citizen advocates have signed on. According to Dayna Hilton, the fire company’s volunteer coordinator, these individuals have provided many different types of support – ranging from assisting with fire safety programming, helping with the department’s fire safety house, assisting at safety fairs, stuffing "goody bags" for children in the community ... even running the department’s two robots Freddie and Pluggie.
The Fire Corps program is also active with departments that have paid personnel. One such case is the Bernalillo County Fire & Rescue Department, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This large department comprises 12 districts with stations throughout the County, providing fire and rescue services for more than 550,000 residents covering over 1,000 square miles. According to volunteer coordinator Carol Morgan, the department has 12 Fire Corps citizen activists helping with administrative and clerical work, public education and firefighter rehabilitation, as well as training other members of the department.
Noting that the Fire Corps program is designed to support paid and volunteer departments regardless of size, Stokes emphasizes that is it not the intent to replace current fire-fighting ranks with Fire Corps citizen advocates. "The objective is for citizens to supplement the department by performing non-operational support tasks, thus freeing up firefighters to focus on the tasks they’re trained to perform," he says.
Fire Corps will be showcasing its programs and activities at national fire industry trade shows throughout the remainder of 2005. Having just appeared at the FDIC 2005 Show in April and Fire Expo in May, Fire Corps will also be exhibiting at Firehouse Expo, Fire Rescue International and the EMS in Fire Service Conference on the following dates:
EMS in Fire Service Conference
Las Vegas, Nevada
June 26-29, 2005
August 11-14, 2005
In addition, Fire Corps plans to attend several state fire meetings, including the Virginia and North Carolina conventions. Attendees at these conferences are invited to stop by the Fire Corps exhibit to learn how they can tap into the support of citizen advocates. Career, volunteer and combination fire departments are also encouraged to visit www.firecorps.org for additional information on the program, as well as to register their department as a Fire Corps participating fire company.
Dayna Hilton of the Johnson County RFD #1, Clarksville, Arkansas, briefs the officers of Phi Beta Lambda organization at University of the Ozarks on Fire Corps plans for the next year.
A group photo of members of the Phi Beta Lambda organization at University of the Ozarks after assisting Johnson County RFD #1, Clarksville, Arkansas with another successful fire safety education event.
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