Fire Corps can be an effective tool for reaching out to the community in order to increase public safety awareness and involvement. It can also generate increased support for the department within the community. The Charlottesville Fire Corps program has embraced these roles by instituting a Citizen’s Fire Academy.

Launched in September 2009, the Academy is designed to provide community members the opportunity to gain an inside view of the Charlottesville Fire Department. Through a series of seminars, participants develop an understanding of the evolving expectations and demands placed on the department and become informed public safety advocates within the community.

The Academy provides a very thorough explanation of all of the department’s responsibilities and expenses so that citizens get a clearer understanding of the department’s staffing and budgetary needs. Seminar topics include an overview of the organization, personnel/labor issues, public education programs, and an overview of apparatus, among others. Classes are held on a weekly basis with graduation occurring in late October. After participating in this program, community members will better understand the full complexity of demands placed on the department and may even decide to become involved through Fire Corps and/or as a volunteer firefighter.

Chief Charles Werner of the Charlottesville Fire Department is excited by the Academy’s potential to both inform and involve the community. “Today’s challenging times make it extremely difficult to maintain budgets and staffing - especially if the citizens do not understand community needs in the areas of public safety,” he said. “This program will give the fire department an edge in the area of community outreach and involvement.”

For more information about the Charlottesville Citizen’s Fire Academy or the Charlottesville Fire Corps Program, contact Mary Loose DeViney at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 434-295-4258.

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