1) What do volunteers need to know in order to be able to complete the tasks that are needed in communities?
2) What information and skills do volunteers need to learn in order to be effective leaders?
These thoughts were the basis of "Citizen Fire Academy: Increasing Reach Capacity of Wildland Fire Agencies Through Education and Volunteer Service," one of the many Saturday sessions at NFPA's Backyards & Beyond conference in Salt Lake City, given by Rhianna Simes and Stephen Fitzerald of the Oregon State University Extension Service. Despite the rainy, cold morning, the presenters and audience were fully engaged and energized about the topic.
Citizen Fire Academy (CFA) is a collaborative, education and service program designed to increase the outreach capacity of residential and wildland fire agencies, and to help communities in Oregon and beyond maintain and enhance more fire adapted communities.
While the session consisted of a formal presentation, most of the time the group participated in an open discussion, sharing lessons learned and ideas for how to create Citizen Academies across the country. Ultimately Ms. Simes and Mr. Fitzgerald plan to take many of the ideas they garnered during the discussion and create additional training materials to provide to others so they, too, can continue this great work!