Frequently Asked Questions
What is Fire Corps?
Fire Corps is a locally-driven Citizen Corps program that enables community members to offer their time and talents to their local fire/EMS department in a non-emergency capacity.
What is Citizen Corps?
Citizen Corps is an initiative under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to help coordinate volunteer activities that will make our communities safer, stronger, and better prepared to respond to any emergency situation. It provides opportunities for people to support first responders and participate in a range of measures to make their families, homes, and communities safer from the threats of crime, terrorism, and disasters of all kinds.
Citizen Corps is comprised of five programs – USAOnWatch/Neighborhood Watch, Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS), and Fire Corps – along with several affiliate organizations. Citizen Corps activities are coordinated at the local level by Citizen Corps Councils. For more information about Citizen Corps, please visit www.citizencorps.gov.
How can Fire Corps benefit my department?
Fire Corps provides opportunities for community members to assist your department by performing non-emergency tasks and roles, enabling department members to focus on emergency response and training. Engaging citizens may also allow departments to increase the services they offer, such as enhanced fire safety education programs. In return, citizens gain a greater understanding of the fire and emergency services and become better prepared to handle their own emergencies as well as those of their neighbors. Fire Corps members also act as advocates for the fire and emergency services in the community.
My department already has a citizen volunteer program in place. Does it qualify as a Fire Corps program or do we have to change it in any way?
If citizens offer their time to support your department in a non-emergency capacity, it qualifies as a Fire Corps program. Registering your program with Fire Corps allows you to use the nationally recognized Fire Corps name, opens your program up to increased funding opportunities, and grants you access to using all of Fire Corps’ resources and materials without having to make modifications. Register your program.
Is there funding available for Fire Corps program?
Yes. As a registered member of Fire Corps, your department may be eligible for grants through your local Citizen Corps Council. Contact your local or state Citizen Corps Council for more information or visit www.citizencorps.gov. There are also increased grant opportunities through other federal grant programs, such as the Fire Prevention and Safety grants available through the Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant program. Learn more about grant and funding opportunities.
My department would like to start a program. What help is available?
The Fire Corps national office has created a myriad of resources to help you start, market, maintain, and expand your department’s efforts to generate more community support through Fire Corps. These include resource guides, sample documents, training and evaluation materials, public service announcements, complimentary newsletters, and promotional materials. Access these resources and more here.
In addition, Fire Corps has created a network of State Advocates to assist you as you start and implement a Fire Corps program. These State Advocates serve as the point of contact to assist departments and programs in their assigned geographic area. Find your State Advocate.You can also contact Fire Corps at 1-888-FC-INFO1 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and guidance.
My department already has a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program. How would establishing a Fire Corps program in addition to CERT benefit my department?
CERT and Fire Corps are complimentary programs that can work together to create a comprehensive citizen volunteer support program. By implementing both CERT and Fire Corps, it becomes even easier to meet a department’s diverse range of needs as well as keep community volunteers actively engaged both in times of crisis and in between. Fire Corps has produced a guide that outlines how Fire Corps and CERT can work together to benefit both the departments and the citizen volunteers as well as how to build stronger communities. Download the guide.
Community Volunteer Questions
Why should I join a Fire Corps program?
As a Fire Corps volunteer, you will be part of a renowned national volunteer program where you can support your local fire/EMS department with non-emergency tasks so department members may better protect your community from fires, natural disasters, terrorism, and other emergencies. In return, you will gain a greater understanding of the fire and emergency services and become better prepared to handle your own emergencies as well as those of your neighbors.
What can I do for my local fire/EMS departments?
Fire Corps members can use their individual talents and skills to support various non-emergency tasks, including but not limited to:
- Conducting fire prevention and life safety education in the community
- Providing rehab or canteen services (providing food and water to first responders during lengthy incidents)
- Raising much-needed funds for the department
- Performing data entry tasks
- Assisting with bookkeeping
- Providing administrative support
- Conducting public relations
- Assisting with events
- Preplanning and conducting research for emergency incidents
- Apparatus and facility maintenance
The types of tasks available are limited only by the needs of the department. Fire/EMS departments seek a variety of skills and will match your talents and interests to an appropriate assignment. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, they may ask you to help design a brochure, or if you’re a computer software expert, they may want you to help improve their existing information system.
How can I learn about Fire Corps opportunities in my area?
Click here to find a list of Fire Corps programs in your area. You may also contact your local fire/EMS department or local Citizen Corps Council to ask if they have a program.
What if there is not a Fire Corps program in my area?
If your local department is not registered with Fire Corps, you may contact your local department or Citizen Corps Council and advocate for a Fire Corps program to be implemented. Perhaps you could offer your services to help start a Fire Corps program within the department. Click here for more information about starting a Fire Corps program, or visit the Departments section to find specific resources and tools to help you and/or the department advocate, start, implement, and manage a Fire Corps program.
Are there age-specific requirements for who can or cannot volunteer? How about teenagers?
Age requirements for Fire Corps programs differ from department to department. Please contact your local fire/EMS department for information on its specific requirements.
Do I have to dedicate a certain number of hours per day, week, or year? How long do I have to serve?
Most departments are happy to have you offer any level of service. Most often, you may work out a schedule of hours with your local department.
What training do I need?
Your department will likely have an orientation and training to introduce you to its program. Additional training may be offered depending on your assignment.