The Charlottesville Fire Corps hosted Las Posada at the Charlottesville Fire Department.

Populations across the U.S. practice a variety of customs during the holiday season. While traditions may differ, a commonality among them is the gathering of friends and families to celebrate and appreciate one another. With this in mind, the Charlottesville Fire Corps decided to reach out to their community’s Spanish-speaking population and host Las Posada at their department, which is a Latin American fiesta translated as ‘inn’ or a place to take shelter.

Felipe Mendoza, a member of the Charlottesville Fire Corps Leadership Council, suggested Las Posada as a way to bring the Latino community into the fire station to familiarize them with the department, its apparatus, gear, and fire safety information. The event was organized entirely by Fire Corps members. The purpose of Las Posada was to build a better relationship between community members and department personnel. Linda Seaman, Charlottesville Fire Corps Director said, "We have a growing Hispanic community here in Charlottesville and it's important for our firefighters to become more familiar with the Hispanic culture and language so that they can better serve those citizens."

Sixty-five members of the Latino community, firefighters, and Fire Corps members attended Las Posada. The group was welcomed by Charlottesville Fire Chief Charles Werner. The night included singing, refreshments, piñatas, and Santa Claus, who was escortedby Chief Werner on a fire department vehicle. To make Las Posada possible, the Charlottesville community made many in-kind donations, including refreshments and the piñatas, for this event. Seaman said, “As our first event, we were pleased by the community support, press coverage, and great attendance.Next year we hope for even more participation.”

The Charlottesville Fire Department kick-started their program earlier this fall and registered with Fire Corps on October 18. Members provide a wide variety of non-emergency services to promote fire safety, support department operations, and advance community awareness. In a recent interview with reporters, Fire Chief Charles Werner said, “Fire Corps volunteers will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our firefighters. It is a great way for people to support our work and make a real difference in the community.”

With the program in its early stages, Chief Werner has appointed a six-member Leadership Council to assess the needs of the department and community and plan the group’s activities accordingly. Fire Corps will help with educational programming to promote fire safety for senior citizens and children, increase awareness of a smoke detector program, recruit foreign language translators, write grants, and perform other special projects. In the coming months, Charlottesville Fire Corps hopes to recruit more members to provide additional support and expand the department’s services. Seaman added that Fire Corps is seeking volunteers with a wide variety of skills. “We will match the volunteers’ skills and time availability to the needs of the fire department. Our goal is to provide outreach, education, and communication to the Charlottesville community and support for the city’s firefighters.”

For more information on the Charlottesville Fire Corps, email Linda Seaman at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit the Fire Corps web site at www.firecorps.org.

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