The Macomb Township Fire Department, located about an hour north of Detroit, MI, has a mission to help protect and serve their community through progressive training, organization, and teamwork. To build on its mission and further protect the 78,000 residents in the area, Fire Chief Robert Phillips established a Fire Corps program, calling on local community members to help with the department’s non-emergency tasks. Since registering with Fire Corps in April 2007, Macomb Township’s Fire Corps has grown to include 25 members who have donated over 750 hours, earning them the President’s Volunteer Service Award in January 2008. This award was established by President Bush to thank and honor Americans who, by their demonstrated commitment and example, inspire others to engage in volunteer service.

"I'm impressed with their enthusiasm and really appreciate their help," Chief Phillips said of the Fire Corps team in an interview with the Macomb Township Chronicle. Members participate in a wide array of tasks including fundraising, grant writing, special events, hose testing, traffic control, and fire safety education. Volunteers also produce monthly fire safety messages, have created public service announcements, and help archive and preserve department photos and other items of historical significance. One member applies her photography skills to capture on-scene pictures which the department uses later for training purposes.

Members have adopted and initiated many department projects since the program’s inception, each led by a different Fire Corps member. These include preparing kits to help residents who have suffered a tragedy, performing child safety seat inspections, educating new parents about infant safety, and overseeing the creation of an emergency translation book.

Macomb’s Fire Corps works closely with the local Community Emergency Response Team, which allows members to receive free training in areas of emergency response, such as CPR and first aid. The Fire Corps volunteers also receive in-depth training in different areas of safety and preparedness. The volunteers then spread these safety messages to other Macomb residents as well as utilize the information to become better prepared to handle emergency situations in their own homes and neighborhoods.

When establishing the Macomb Fire Corps, internal organization was an important factor to ensure the success of the program. Chief Phillips appointed Sergeant Dwayne Thompson to head the program. After researching and assessing department and community needs, communicating with the Fire Corps national office, and networking with other successful Fire Corps programs across the nation, the department was ready to kick-start their program. Thompson established enrollment qualifications, background checks, and identification criteria and procedures to ensure safety for both the Fire Corps and department members. To recruit volunteers for the program, the department aired a video public service announcement on local television stations and released articles to local newspapers.

Thompson recently obtained additional funding for the program and department from the Urban Area Security Initiative: Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which provides funding support to nonprofit organizations that are at high risk for an international terrorist attack. The money will be used to provide uniforms and training systems for Fire Corps members as well as purchase additional equipment for the department and township. Thompson is thrilled that Macomb’s Fire Corps members are being recognized for their dedication to the program through the President’s Volunteer Service Award. “Both the department and community have benefited from the work of our Fire Corps members. We are very thankful for the time they donate and the additional skills they bring to the department,” he said.

To view Macomb Township’s Fire Corps and fire safety PSAs, visit www.macomb-mi.gov/Fire/FireHomePage.html. For more information on the Macomb Township Fire Corps program, contact Sgt. Dwayne Thompson at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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