Firefighters Battle Massive Wildfires in Southern California – Fire Corps Volunteers Can Help

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Drought conditions, warm temperatures, and strong winds have contributed to more than a dozen wildfires throughout Southern California . Firefighters are battling the blazes from Malibu to San Diego , while more almost one million residents have been ordered to flee their homes. Over 1,300 homes have already been destroyed, and dozens of people – including firefighters – have been injured; tragically, at least one life has been lost. President Bush has declared an emergency in the state of California , authorizing federal agencies to mobilize relief and offer assistance to Californians in areas affected by the wildfires.

While Fire Corps members are not on the front lines, there are many behind-the-scene actions they can take to assist the first responders. These may include, but are not limited to, fundraising; gathering supplies such as food, clothes, blankets, and other commodity items for victims; offering counseling services to those who have lost their home or a loved one in the fires; or supplying food and water to firefighters or emergency medical personnel who are responding to the fires. Fire Corps members can also help facilitate communications with the public by answering phone calls or emails at their fire/EMS department. In addition, Fire Corps volunteers can keep community members informed about the status of the wildfires by posting up-to-date information on the department web site.

While the wildfires in California are an immediate concern, wildfires threaten communities across the nation in the wildland/urban interface. In order to prevent future wildfires, Fire Corps members can reach out to communities to provide wildland/urban interface fire prevention education. In a partnership with the National Fire Protection Associations' Firewise program, Fire Corps is developing a toolkit to assist communities in combating the devastating effects of wildland fires by teaching community members to be fire-wise in and around homes and businesses.

Launching later this fall, the materials will allow new and existing Fire Corps teams to implement the Firewise program at the local level and serve as an important resource in the prevention of wildfire disasters. The program seeks to reduce the loss of lives, property, and resources to wildland fire by building and maintaining communities in a way that is compatible with the natural surroundings. This is done by involving homeowners, community leaders, planners, developers, and others in the planning and design of a safe community before a fire starts. Stay tuned to the Fire Corps web site at www.firecorps.org for more information.

Search for local Fire Corps volunteer opportunities in California and throughout the nation at www.firecorps.org. Read more about the California wildfires.

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