Neighborhood CERT Supports Fire Department Training


At Christmas, some of my neighbors bake cookies and deliver them to the local fire station. They are duly thanked. But last month, our fire department showed their appreciation in a whole different way.

They used our streets and houses for training!

Getting familiar with our community

Non-standard fire hydrant

Non-standard hydrant

First Responders always have to get used to our community. It has narrow streets and smaller-than-regulation fire hydrants, not to mention an impossible house numbering system.

So last month, when they had a recruit who needed training, they gave us a call.

Could our neighborhood CERT group host a training exercise?

Well, of course we could!

With only two days’ notice, we pulled together a team, sent out a flyer to everyone warning them to stay out of the way, and when the engines pulled in on a Friday morning, we were ready.

  • Our CERT member posted at the gate saw them enter and notified the entire team via hand-held radio.
  • Block by block, turn by turn, we tracked them and reported in.
  • When they arrived at the “subject house,” our team members set up a traffic management system, meant to keep residents’ cars – and residents on foot — from getting tangled up in the hoses.
Traffic hazard

Traffic hazard

Things went well! The recruit passed his test (locating the hydrant, attaching the hoses, pulling hoses around the corner and across the street, etc.). Our traffic management proceeded without incident, and radio communications worked perfectly. (One of our members acted as Net Control, accompanying the Incident Commander in a golf cart.)

At the end of an 90 minutes, the fire department had rolled everything up and were gone.

Then, later that same day, they called to ask if they could come back the following week and do it again!

Benefits of working together

Working with our local fire station crew this way has so many benefits.

First, they learn more about the neighborhood and will obviously be able to respond more quickly and confidently to the next emergency.

Second, they got to see our CERT team in action – and they voiced their admiration for the way we were organized and for the help we gave them.

Finally, we got to know those crew members personally, and they got to know us. Nothing can substitute for this personal connection.

Plans for future training exercises

Now that we have had this experience, we will be inviting other stations to take advantage of our “training facility” when they can.

It’s a way to position our CERT group positively in the eyes of the First Responder community, and it gives us a way to reinforce our preparedness message to our neighbors, too. Not to mention the all-important radio practice!

Have you ever hosted a training in YOUR community?  Who initiated contact? How did it go? Let us readers know!

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  1. Russ Flanigan