Sun City West Fire District Wins 2013 Fire Corps Award of Excellence

Fire Corps, in partnership with the International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA) and Fire Protection Publications (FPP), would like to congratulate the Sun City West (SCW) Fire District Fire Corps program (AZ) for being selected as the 2013 Fire Corps Award of Excellence winner.

Sponsored by IFSTA/FPP, this award annually honors a Fire Corps program whose remarkable achievements in the fire and emergency services and community exemplify outstanding performance. The SCW Fire Corps will be recognized at the upcoming National Volunteer Fire Council’s Awards Reception and Dinner on May 10 in Alexandria, VA. The Community Assistance Response Team (WA) and the Loveland-Symmes Fire Department (OH) both received honorable mentions.

About the District

Sun City West, AZ, is an active adult retirement community that was established 30 years ago. The Fire District covers 35 square miles and has approximately 42,000 residents, of which 32,500 are senior citizens. This demographic is one of the highest at-risk groups identified for falls as well as fire and burn injuries. The SCW Fire District proactively worked to address these issues, and in May 2008 established its Fire Corps program primarily aimed at injury prevention in the District’s service area.

About the Program

The goal of the SCW Fire Corps program, which works in conjunction with Fire District personnel and the Sun City West Citizen Corps Council, is to assist the Community Risk Management Division with programs and services that will reduce physical trauma and death due to injuries among the senior population while providing rewarding opportunities for volunteers to give back to their community and nurture camaraderie.

The program provides a myriad of volunteer opportunities for community members to support programs and services. These include blood pressure screenings, lockbox installations and maintenance, smoke alarm and battery checks and installations, home safety assessments, chest-compression-only CPR  and AED training, traditional CPR/first aid/AED training, emergency preparedness awareness training, fire extinguisher training, falls and burn prevention education, public education at community events, child passenger safety seat installation and loaner program, community partnerships, public relations, and administrative duties.

The District’s Fire Corps volunteers offer services that produce positive changes in the retirement community of Sun City West and the SCW Fire District as a whole. In 2012, the 50 members of the District’s Fire Corps volunteered approximately 5,213 hours, a value of approximately $113,591 worth of time to the District and community ( The SCW Fire Corps members are seniors serving seniors. The ages of the volunteers range from early 60 to the late 80’s.

Community members are very appreciative of the programs offered by the volunteers as seen by the myriad of thank you letters, accolades through the District’s customer survey program, and donations made by community members to support the program. The individual satisfaction of the volunteers and appreciation of the community has helped to grow the program since the initial 14 members started in January of 2009. New members join the Fire Corps after hearing about the program from dedicated volunteers, being the recipient of services provided by current volunteers, or reading about the program in the newspaper. Since the inception of the program, volunteers have donated over 12,915 hours.

Fire Corps members sign up for monthly volunteer opportunities as the need for community services are requested. The volunteers proactively help the community by being available to support its programs Monday through Thursday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., along with other volunteer opportunities requested by organizations like the Salvation Army and local food bank during evenings and weekends. The Fire Corps members also participate in various training opportunities throughout the year to stay current with needed skills necessary for effective, efficient, and successful job performance.

These Fire Corps volunteers have accomplished remarkable achievements working alongside the SCW Fire District. Members receive accolades from the community, media, and the District’s governing fire board for their professionalism, effectiveness, and efficiency in providing lifesaving services that make Sun City West a better community for people to work, play, live, and visit.

Program Impact

The SCW Fire Corps’ initiatives  have far reaching impact and provide life saving benefits to the community. In 2012 alone, the group provided the following services:

• 3,257 smoke alarms installed and 1,107 checked and/or battery changed. The department received a FEMA grant which enabled Fire Corps members to visit 4,207 homes in 18 months.
• 660 lockboxes installed and 437 keys updated. Lockboxes are safe, virtually impenetrable devices containing the resident’s door key and installed at a home’s front entrance. A master key to open all boxes in the community is contained in a similar box in every fire vehicle and ambulance; the driver of the vehicle is the only one who has the combination to the vehicle box. The lockbox can be especially important in a medical emergency in which the resident in the home is unable to unlock the door for EMS personnel and time is of the essence to address the emergency.
• 1,754 blood pressure checks at regularly scheduled sessions.
• 495 child passenger safety seats installed.
• 409 people trained in chest-compression-only CPR (also referred to as hands-only CPR) and 203 people trained in traditional CPR/first aid/AED.
• 13 emergency preparedness training sessions attended by 158 residents. The training is based on FEMA’s Are You Ready curriculum emphasizing local vulnerabilities. Use of the Community Emergency Notification System and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration radios is encouraged.
• District Fire Corps members participated in community education and community relations during 289 presentations connecting with 10,691 community members.
• Support tasks and projects at the Fire District Administration Building include shredding, scanning, filing, answering phones, and program maintenance and management. Fire Corps members help with the EMS supply program; support community and safety events (i.e. Safe Kids, Drowning Coalition, Salvation Army); contribute to the Holiday Community Fill-a-Need program; support the District’s toy, food, bike, and blood drives; fundraising; and more.

“The SCW Fire Corps is a remarkable program,” said Fire Corps Director Sarah Lee. “The District has done a fantastic job utilizing its residents to enhance their services while also giving these members an opportunity to give back to their community. It’s amazing to see how the volunteers embrace the program and selflessly and enthusiastically step up to help not only the District, but each other and their fellow neighbors.”

Learn more about the SCW Fire District Fire Corps program.

Award Sponsors

IFSTA’s mission is to identify areas of need for training materials and foster the development and validation of training materials for the fire service and related areas. IFSTA is an association of fire service personnel who are dedicated to upgrading firefighting techniques and safety through training.

FPP, a department of Oklahoma State University, is the headquarters for IFSTA. FPP’s primary function is to publish and disseminate training manuals as proposed and validated by IFSTA.