Integrating Volunteers in Preparedness and Response

A great example of how it can work.

by Eric Holdeman / November 6, 2019

The repeated fires in California have motivated individuals, neighborhoods and communities to become better prepared to respond to wildland fires, which in the podcast are called "wildland urban integrated fires," versus the normal "wildland urban interface fires." This is because people are living in and among the wildland areas.

Listen to this podcast Preparing for climate change fires in Los Angeles.

As an emergency manager, you will note that this volunteer organization is well organized and integrated with government agencies. I noted any number of key points:

  • Providing accurate information is key to what they do. They do not want to deal in rumors
  • They do monitor social media in the community to dispel rumors when they are identified
  • They have a physical liaison to command posts to ensure they have the best information possible
  • They are working in tandem with other volunteer groups, including CERT, and don't see them as competition
  • The risks of living where they do are not clearly understood by newcomers coming from an urban area
  • Fire behavior has changed overtime and is much more unpredictable

As for climate change being in the title. There is the acknowledgment that historical fires are not good predictors of current fire behavior.

When you get volunteers stepping forward in "an organized way," first try to work with them and don't push them away!


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