The Fire Corps of Utah is taking steps to solve an all too common problem - a large number of fire departments would like to have a Fire Corps program, but many do not have the resources to manage one alone. As a result, the state of Utah is taking the lead by creating a state-wide Fire Corp program that is managed by the Utah Office of the State Fire Marshal. Each region will have representatives to direct volunteers in their area to a department with needs that match the volunteers’ interests and abilities. Through this program, the Fire Corps of Utah will rise to the challenge of serving 2.5 million people spread over 84,000 square miles.

This unique method of organization will allow departments across the state to benefit from volunteer support. Fire Corps members can work to increase participation in their community’s local Fire Corps program, or they can focus on state-wide initiatives, such as being a regional coordinator for the Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Program or creating fire safety education materials for use in schools.

One of the main activities of the Fire Corps members is to increase wildland urban interface (WUI) safety through education. Utah has many isolated communities throughout the state that are completely surrounded by wildland. Wildfires occur every summer and often threaten both rural and urban communities. Reaching the citizens about this particular danger is crucial, and the threat is even greater this year as the current number of wildfires already exceeds 46,000 – well over the national average of 43,273.

To help with WUI education, Fire Corps of Utah has partnered with other stakeholder organizations such as Community Fire Councils comprised of landowners living in identified WUI areas who have come together to create fire plans and take action. These councils identify the hazard their community faces in regard to wildfires, prioritize the hazards, and establish an action plan. The councils are encouraged to form a Fire Corps group under Fire Corps of Utah. If and when their local fire department is ready to support the council, Fire Corps of Utah relinquishes organizational control and the councils report directly to the local departments instead.

In addition, volunteers for the magazine Utah Living with Fire are working with Fire Corps of Utah to update the educational materials the state distributes to those concerned about wildfire. A Citizen Corps grant was used to hire a photographer to get Utah-specific photos both for this publication and to provide stock images for future needs. If additional funding can be secured, they plan to produce an educational video for Community Fire Councils and other Fire Corps educators to use.

Recently, Fire Corps of Utah, along with Utah Living with Fire and Forestry, Fire, and State Lands, hosted a WUI workshop for homeowners in Cedar City and will also host a second workshop in Salt Lake City in August. Over the next year, they hope to host four to six smaller workshops in communities across the state to further educate the public on how to prevent damage from wildfires.

Another project for Fire Corps of Utah is a WUI homeowner training program for urban neighborhoods. Currently, Utah has an award-winning training program for rural WUI communities to help them understand their hazards, take personal responsibility for their safety and protection of their property, and teach them appropriate actions. Fire Corps members are working with the creators of this program and with the local structural fire agency to produce an urban-based version of the training. The project is scheduled to be piloted this fall and spring.

For more information about the Fire Corps of Utah, contact Monica Colby at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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