Wednesday, December 31, 2008

CERT in 2009-a new year, with new roles. CERT Volunteers needed for the inaugural!

Red Cross NCR looking for partner support with Mass Care Volunteers

Hi folks and happy new year!
2008 was a great year for CERT, and 2009 is starting off well too. CERT members have been asked to help with the inauguration event!
The Red Cross needs our help.They need volunteers,hundreds of them to help during the inauguration. The Red Cross needs CERT members preferably with mass care and sheltering training. But, if you are not trained the Red Cross will train you. The time period where CERT members are needed range from January 15th to January 22nd. If you are interested in helping out, please contact Elliott or Andrew (a CERT 15 class graduate, incidentally).

your volunteer PIO

Here is YOUR opportunity to volunteer during Inauguration!

The Red Cross of the National Capital Region has been asked to perform a number of essential roles during Inauguration Week (1/15/09 through 1/22/09).These roles include sheltering local victims of daily disasters (e.g. fire victims) while there are no available hotel rooms within 200 miles. Another aspect of this massive operation is sheltering and feeding emergency services personnel coming in from across the country to help with the inaugural. Also, volunteers are needed to be on standby to shelter thousands of people should there be an unexpected event that interrupts the festivities.

If you would like to be trained to volunteer for Mass Care and Shelter Operations, please let us know!

Very much looking forward to your reply and to your support.

Elliot Harkavy, NGO Partner Services Lead
American Red Cross of the National Capital Region

Andrew Levy, NGO Partner Services Deputy
American Red Cross of the National Capital Region

Friday, December 26, 2008

Facebook ROCKS ! and an okie dokie for a new CERT brochure!

Hi folks!
I hope everyone has had a wonderful holiday season! I've got a few things to toss out to the Fairfax County CERT family, so here goes.......
Hey, you haven't tried Facebook yet! Why not? Cathleen set up a Fairfax County CERT facebook page, but I haven't seen many people on it. C'mon, give it a try! Below is the Wikipedia description of the site.

Facebook is a popular, free-access social networking website that is operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc.[1] Users can join networks organized by city, workplace, school, and region to connect and interact with other people. People can also add friends and send them messages, and update their personal profile to notify friends about themselves.

I wasn't a big fan of these social networking sites,I always thought this sort of thing the province of the 18-25 crowd........until I tried it. I'll tell you, Facebook is actually quite interesting! You sign up for it (hey, it's FREE), you build a personal profile,put your own pictures on it, post your favorite youtube videos there,and connect with other people all over the world. You can throw a snowball,"poke someone"; learn of my love of punk rock and Wallace and Grommit; Micah and his love of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Cathleen's always interesting game of Pirates.Not to mention Denise's always intriguiging posts. Some CERT members are already on there, and it's a really a lot of fun folks.

On a deeper level; Facebook is a way to easily connect with people....not only for the silly and mundane, but possibly in not so good times. In an emergency a facebook post could conceivably allow loved ones to know if you were ok-sometimes a text message or email gets out where phone lines may be overloaded or downed. THAT is the intriguiging part of facebook-It may be useful in that respect. Another thing-Facebook software is freely available for your Blackberry, I phone and a host of other PDA/smartphones. I "Face" on my blackberry,myself. Give it a try, you'll be glad you did!

On another subject, we have been allotted the funding to make a new CERT brochure!!!!! As those who have come out to work at our community outreach event (you have, haven't you?? Remember, participation in three community outreach events in a calendar year can count as your yearly refresher.) Fairfax County CERT uses a variety of handouts, one page sheets and the like to get the emergency preparedness and CERT message to the community. With this new brochure we can combine the hodge podge into one easy to hand out brochure.
But I need your help.................. What would YOU like to see in a CERT brochure? The target of the brochure is everybody-residents all over Fairfax County. Drop me a line at and lets all brainstorm on this. We have a substantial amount of funding for this project, I was told. So, if you have an idea please pass it on. This brochure will represent OUR CERT team to our neighbors. I've got some time (scratch that, LOTS of time- I was laid off from my job the week before Christmas-ho ho oh no! for me) to put this together and would like to finalize the layout before December 31st if possible.
On a final note, are there any CERT members that speak or write other languages? If you do, please let me know.

your volunteer PIO

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Resolve to be Ready…Take Time to Make a Plan

Here's a good article from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

For a New Year's resolution that's free and easy to do, consider this: take time to make sure your family has a plan in case of an emergency.

"Making a plan can make a big difference in how your family survives a disaster," said Michael Cline, state coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. "Resolutions are sometimes hard to keep, but making this decision could save the lives of your family members and protect your property."

Because families may not be together when an emergency happens, it is important to decide ahead of time how family members will get in touch with each other and where they will go and what they will do. People with written emergency plans are better prepared to handle emergencies and recover successfully from them.

Here’s what to do to make a family emergency plan:

  • Talk with your family about the hazards and likely threats for your area and what your family would do during an actual emergency.
  • Decide on a meeting place if your family cannot return home. Choose a neighborhood meeting place and another meeting place if you cannot get to your neighborhood. Also, if you have pets, choose a destination that accepts pets if you ever need to evacuate your home for any length of time.
  • Choose an out-of town friend or relative as an emergency point of contact. This is important because it may be easier to make a long distance phone call than to call across town. An out-of-town contact can help communicate among separated family members. Be sure everyone in your family has this person’s phone number.
  • If you are a parent, ask your schools and daycare providers how they will communicate with families during a crisis. Ask if they are prepared to "shelter in place" if needed and where they plan to go if they must leave.
  • Write down your family emergency plan. Get printable worksheets to make a plan at

    Ready Virginia is a statewide public outreach program to help residents learn what to do before and during emergencies. Visit for information on how to get a kit, make a plan and stay informed for all types of emergencies, including natural and human-caused disasters.

    In addition to a family plan, every Virginia family should put together an emergency supply kit with essential items to last at least three days. This includes – at a minimum – water, prepackaged and canned food, a working battery-powered radio and extra batteries, flashlights, and a first aid kit and medications, if needed.

    A companion Web site,, is available for those who speak Spanish.

    During an emergency, you will be better prepared to safely reunite your family and loved ones if you have a family plan. In 2009, resolve to be ready … make a plan now.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Fairfax County CERT on Facebook

Hi all,

We are exploring utilizing different Social Media Tools to see if we can get the cool CERT word out about. We have set up a Facebook page about our CERT program at Fairfax County CERT. You must be a Facebook user to access.

Don't worry if you don't want to break into Facebook, we will still be putting up the best, important "need to know" information on this blog. However, if you are a Facebook, I have tied the blog entries into the Facebook page.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Holiday Fire Safety

With the onset of the holiday season, it is important to focus on fire safety and prevention. The celebration of the season brings with it increased usage of electric lights, decorations, candles, and the ever popular Christmas tree, all of which can be potential fire hazards. Additionally, cooking fires increase during the holidays as families and friends gather to celebrate. By following general fire safety precautions, potential holiday fires, deaths, and injuries remain preventable.

Christmas Trees
What’s a traditional Christmas morning scene without a beautifully decorated tree? If your household includes a natural tree in its festivities, take to heart the sales person’s suggestion – “Keep the tree watered.”
Christmas trees account for hundreds of fires annually. Typically, shorts in electrical lights or open flames from candles, lighters or matches start tree fires. Well-watered trees are not a problem. A dry and neglected tree can be.

Selecting a Tree for the Holidays
Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needles should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long and, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard.

Caring for Your Tree
Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.

Disposing of Your Tree
Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood-burning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pick-up service.

Holiday Lights
Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.

Do Not Overload Electrical Outlets
Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires – they should not be warm to the touch.

Holiday Decorations
All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents.

Artificial Christmas Trees
If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.

Candle Care
If you use lit candles, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning.

Never Put Lit Candles on a Tree
Do not go near a Christmas tree with an open flame – candles, lighters or matches.

Have a safe and happy holiday season!


Monday, December 8, 2008

Winter Fire Safety

During the winter months, residential fires are more prevalent than they are in the spring or summer. This is due in part to an increase in the number of cooking and heating fires.
With colder temperatures and the high cost of home heating fuels and utilities, many people resort to using fireplaces, wood stoves, space heaters, and other alternative heating methods to keep warm. All of these methods of heating are acceptable; however, they are also major contributors to residential fires. Many of these fires can be prevented! The following fire safety tips can help you maintain a fire-safe home this winter.
Wood Stove and Fireplaces
Wood stoves and fireplaces are becoming a very common heat source in homes. Careful attention to safety can minimize their fire hazard.
To use them safely:
* Be sure the fireplace or stove is installed properly. Wood stoves should have adequate clearance (36 inches) from combustible surfaces and proper floor support and protection.
* Wood stoves should be of good quality, solid construction, and design. Purchase wood stoves evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
* Have the chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessary, especially if it has not been used for some time.
* Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate any fire.
* Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening, to prevent embers or sparks from jumping out, unwanted material from going in, and help prevent the possibility of burns to occupants.
* The stove should be burned hot twice a day for 15-30 minutes to reduce the amount of creosote buildup.
* Don’t use excessive amounts of paper to build roaring fires in fireplaces. It is possible to ignite creosote in the chimney by overbuilding the fire.
* Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal can give off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide.
* Keep flammable materials away from your fireplace mantel. A spark from the fireplace could easily ignite these materials.
* Before you go to sleep, be sure your fireplace fire is out. NEVER close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. A closed damper will help the fire to heat up again and will force toxic carbon monoxide into the house.
* If synthetic logs are used, follow the directions on the package. NEVER break a synthetic log apart to quicken the fire or use more than one log at a time. They often burn unevenly, releasing higher levels of carbon monoxide.
It is important that you have your furnace inspected to ensure that it is in good working condition.
* Be sure all furnace controls and emergency shutoffs are in proper working condition.
* Do not attempt repairs yourself: leave furnace repairs to qualified specialists.
* Inspect the walls and ceiling near the furnace and along the chimney line. If the wall is hot or discolored, additional pipe insulation or clearance may be required.
* Check the flue pipe and pipe seams. Are they well supported and free of holes and cracks? Soot along or around seams may be an indicator of a leak.
* Is the chimney solid, with cracks or loose bricks? All unused flue openings should be sealed with solid masonry.
* Keep trash and other combustibles away from the heating system.
Kerosene Heaters
* Be sure your heater is in good working condition. Inspect exhaust parts for carbon buildup. * Be sure the heater has an emergency shut off in case the heater is tipped over.
* Never use fuel burning appliances without proper room venting. Burning fuel (coal, kerosene, or propane for example) can produce deadly fumes. Use ONLY the fuel recommended by the heater manufacturer. NEVER introduce a fuel into a unit not designed for that type fuel.
Keep kerosene, or other flammable liquids stored in approved metal containers, in well ventilated storage areas, outside of the house.
* NEVER fill the heater while it is operating or hot. Follow manufacturer’s instructions. When refueling an oil or kerosene unit, avoid overfilling. Cold fuel may expand in the tank as it warms up.
* Refueling should be done outside of the home (or outdoors). Keep young children away from space heaters – especially when they are wearing pajamas or other loose clothing that can be easily ignited.
* When using a fuel burning appliance in the bedroom, be sure there is proper ventilation to prevent a buildup of carbon monoxide.
Winter Storm Fire Safety
* Fire-Related Hazards Present during and after a Winter Storm.
* Alternative heating devices used incorrectly create fire hazards.
* Damaged or downed utility lines can present a fire and life safety hazard.
* Water damaged appliances and utilities can be electrically charged.
* Frozen water pipes can burst and cause safety hazards.
* Leaking gas lines, damaged or leaking gas propane containers, and leaking vehicle gas tanks may explode or ignite.
* Generators are often used during power outages. Generators that are not properly used and maintained can be hazardous.
* To safeguard yourself, your family, and your home from these potential hazards, please follow the safety tips listed below:
Chemical Safety
* Look for combustible liquids like gasoline, lighter fluid, and paint thinner that may have spilled. Thoroughly clean the spill and place the containers in a well ventilated area. Remember to keep combustible liquids away from any heat source.
Electrical Safety
If your home has sustained flood or water damage, and you can safely get to the main breaker of fuse box, turn off the power. Assume all wires on the ground are electrically charged. This includes cable feeds. Look for and replace frayed or cracked extension cords, loose prongs, and plugs; exposed outlets and wiring could present a fire and life safety hazard. Appliances that emit smoke or sparks should be repaired or replaced. Be sure to have a licensed electrician check your home for any damage.
Gas Safety
Smell and listen for leaky gas connections. If you believe there is a gas leak, immediately leave the house and leave the door open. Never strike a match: any size flame can spark an explosion. Before turning the gas back on, have the gas system checked by a professional.
Generator Safety
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines when using a generator. Always use a generator or other fuel-powered machines outside of the home. Carbon monoxide fumes are odorless and can quickly overwhelm you indoors.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008 fact sheets have been updated!

Hi folks!
Get a kit-make a plan-get involved........Does this sound familiar? Of course it does, these are the main points of information on the federal government preparedness website,
I was just informed that new and updated information is available on the website, the web address is below: is a 24/7 resource for information on learning to prepare, and how to stay prepared. Check it out!

your volunteer PIO

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Congratulations to CERT 34 and CERT 35!

Hi folks,
On Saturday November 22nd another group of citizens became part of our Fairfax County CERT community. Our CERT 2 class, CERT 34 AND our first CERT basic class, CERT 35 both completed the final exercise on a very cold day. You had lots of victims to rescue, triage and treat, and you all did fine. Welcome, new CERT brothers and sisters! Each of you stood up to the test of preparing yourselves, your families and your community for the prospect of major disaster. Each of you excelled at the task!
I wanted to throw in some special mention to the CERT 35 class. The CERT 35 class is our first ever basic CERT class, and frankly I couldn't tell you apart from the CERT 34 class members. AWESOME job, CERT 35. A huge "YOU ROCK" go out to the CERT basic training team of Jack and Susy, you two as always did a great job!

Everyone did a great job Saturday-so good they made the papers! Check out this link-

Congratulations, CERT 34 and CERT 35!
your volunteer PIO

Monday, November 17, 2008

Winter Preparedness Week is Nov. 30-Dec. 6

Although this year's winter forecast is for above normal temperatures and near normal precipitation, Virginians should be prepared for severe winter weather by following a few simple steps to keep their families safe.
  • Plug space heaters directly into wall sockets, not extension cords.
  • Fireplaces and wood stoves should be prepared for winter by having professionals inspect and clean them. Residue can build up that can cause fires.
  • Driving is most dangerous when the temperature is at or under 32° F, and most vehicle crashes occur within the first two hours after a storm begins. For road conditions call 511 or go to
For more winter weather preparedness tips, go to

Turkey time, revisited

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, I have gone to the CERT archives to pull out and beat this dead horse I posted last year. I know it is repetitive, but it is still good information to have on hand.

Have you thought about how you might be cooking your Thanksgiving turkey? What the heck does this have to do with CERT, safety or anything other than a cooking class or something on the Food Network? Has Mike gone completely crazy? Has cooking with Emeril Lagasse gone to his head? Good questions all!

Over the past few years there has been a growing trend of people frying their turkeys. I have to say, fried turkey sure do taste good, this is a fact. Unfortunately, if you are novice, or even have experience frying a turkey, it is a serious and dangerous prospect.

There are many reasons a deep fryer can be dangerous. Since using the typical pedestal type turkey fryer SHOULD NEVER BE DONE INDOORS (this includes a garage or barn, even if is not entirely closed in), making sure you have the space and equipment to do this outdoors is important. Also bear in mind, the weather; if it is windy, raining or snowing, this could affect your fryer.

In order to fry your turkey you will need to get the oil in the fryer up to at least 350 degrees ...350 degrees, which, if you did not know, IS REALLY HOT! Working with an unstable product such as blazing hot oil over an open flame is dangerous, even if you know what you are doing.

Other safety issues include:

* If the burner is not on level ground, the units can easily tip over, spilling hot oil (3-5 gallons of hot oil at 350 degrees!!!) onto the burner and creating a LARGE, FAST fire.
* If the pot is overfilled with oil, the oil may spill over when the turkey is lowered into the pot. Oil will hit the flames on the burner and engulf the burner with fire. There are ways to measure out the right amount of oil, which is imperative to ensure you do not have the pot overfilled.
* Water and hot oil do not go together. Partially frozen turkeys contain water of course, so if you lower a partially frozen turkey into a fryer, expect an extensive fire. Heaven help you if you place a frozen turkey in the fryer; to help defrost it....this will cause an explosion as the water expands in the hot (350 degrees ) oil. DON'T do it.
* The outdoor fryers have no thermostat controls, so they can overheat quickly and cause the oil to boil over the sides of the pot before you can react.
* The pot and handles get extremely hot (remember, 350 degrees of boiling oil), posing severe burn hazards.

I am sure there is someone out there saying to themselves, "I won't let Mike yuck my yum, I am going to fry a turkey anyway". Fine, be that way. It won't be the first time someone did not listen to what I said and partially burned their house know who you are.

You still want to fry that turkey? Ok, fine. Please, bear these things in mind as you go about frying. These are not guaranteed to stop a fire or keep you from getting burned, but they may help in mitigating a larger disaster (such as burning your house down):

* Never use a turkey fryer on a wooden deck or inside a garage, home, or within any structure.
* Place the fryer a safe distance away from any building (bear in mind if you place it in the grass, the grass should not be overly dry, nor overly wet. Also count on the grass in that area dying and never growing back).
* Fryers should be used on a firm, flat surface to prevent them from tipping over. Try the middle of a parking lot....not the sloping driveway in front of your house next to your car.
* Once the pot is filled with the recommended 3-5 gallons of oil (probably peanut oil) and the burner is ignited, you should never leave the fryer unattended. This also means do not cook if you are under the influence. Please, don't drink and fry.
* Keep pets inside and keep children at a safe distance. A safe distance being somewhere where they will never see it because once they do, they will want to get close.
* Use well-insulated gloves or oven mitts and wear safety glasses (I think I know where you might have a pair laying around) to guard against oil splatters.
* Do not wear loose clothing as this might ignite if you get too close to the flame or the oil, or both. If your clothes do catch on fire, remember, Stop, Drop and Roll!
*Turkeys must be thoroughly thawed. While very tasty, be very careful of injecting marinades into your turkey. The extra liquid may cause the oil to spill over.
*Keep a portable dry chemical fire extinguisher nearby. I know, we have not had extinguishers yet, so, in this instance, pull the pin on the extinguisher, point it at the fire, squeeze the trigger, spray and pray. Never use a water type extinguisher to extinguish a grease or oil fire. Do not deploy the garden hose to assist with your turkey fryer fire, this will do MUCH, MUCH more harm than good.
* If your fryer does catch fire call 9-1-1 immediately!

Finally, remember the oil (3-5 gallons of it) inside the pot will remain hot for hours after your turkey has been removed. DO NOT bring it indoors and again, keep children and pets away from the pot.

For more information on some of the hazards of cooking fires (not just the turkey fryer fires), please visit the United States Fire Administration's website for a copy of: Behavioral Mitigation of Cooking Fires by going here:

For a short demo on a fryer fire, go here:

Thanks for reading and I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tick-Tock Tick-Tock

Time is running out! There are only two more dates to volunteer as a victim this year! If you are an existing CERT and need to re-certify, you know what that means. I know you were waiting for the best of the opportunities, so here we go. Our actor/victims give these drills that realistic flavor, so we really appreciate your efforts. The current CERT 34 class will have their 'Disaster Scenario' class Wednesday 11/19 at the Fire & Rescue Training Academy. You'll get fixed up, nice and bloody, maybe with a stick coming out of your gut. We'll run a couple drills for them so they will feel comfortable and confident for the 'BIG KAHUNA' on Saturday 11/22, also at the Academy. Join us for the all day event over several acres of complete disaster mayhem. Bring a friend, spouse or a neighbor. The more the merrier. We'll feed you lunch too! Bring your 'best of show' acting abilities and a strong voice. This gives you an excellent opportunity to see for yourself how the County helps prepare it's citizens to prepare for disasters and how to help in a safe manner. Maybe you'll join our next class.

Email to sign up for one or both days and more details. This is an experience you won't forget. We give Community Service Hours certificates too!

So, what does CERT mean to you?

Hi folks!
As the title line suggests, what does CERT training mean to you? Being better prepared for disasters? Learning new and creative uses for duct tape? Hearing Derek holler, "You're killing me!" ? Wearing really cool green hardhats,vests and playing in the burn building?
Here is why I'm asking- the CERT 34 class final exercise takes place on Saturday, November 22nd. We will have members of the press coming out to the exercise; to watch, to interview, to take pictures and write stories about OUR CERT program.
As part of having media at the exercise, I'm trying to put together a first ever "Fairfax County CERT press kit"-a binder with background information on Fairfax County CERT and the event the press will be witnessing.

It would be REALLY nice to have stories from CERT members for that kit. CERT's best asset are our fellow brother and sister CERT members.

So, if you would, between now and Monday, November 17th-please send me an email at with your full name and CERT class number. Put in the email subject line "What CERT means to me".
And give me a few lines, or a paragraph, or a page......... on what CERT means to you. What would you say to a reporter if one asked what CERT meant to you? Speak up,this is your chance. Let people know! what CERT means to you.
Each one I get will be included in the press kit; but I do need to have them all in my hands by Monday November 17th.
Thank you all for your help on this; let's make the Fairfax County CERT voice-your voice, our voices; heard- loud and proud!

your volunteer PIO

Check this out!

Hi folks,
CERT 15 graduate Andrew had an opportunity to help others in a big way earlier this year. Take a look at the flash feature at the link below.
Nice job Andrew!

your volunteer PIO

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Keep those cards and letters coming, folks!

Hi folks!
Below is part of an email I received yesterday from Ms. Sharon Bulova. Ms. Bulova is the vice-chairperson of the Fairfax County board of supervisors and supervisor of the Braddock district. The email was in response to the previous post regarding CERT and upcoming budget cuts. She clarified the budget schedule for us; I had some dates incorrect.
THANK YOU to all CERT members who have sent emails and calls to your district supervisors; we are being heard. Keep them coming! Ms. Bulova also mentions participating in community dialogue sessions, the link to these upcoming meetings is below. Folks, if you have the time to go we can make our voices heard even more loudly.
your volunteer PIO

Terry, I just received your message (in part below) and wanted to provide a correction. The County is projecting a shortfall for the next fiscal year 2010 should we continue to do business "as usual" with what we expect to be a reduced stream of revenue due to the current downturn in the economy.
The County Board is examining all of our programs and services in order to prepare for that challenging fiscal year. No budget has been advertised yet.

The County Executive will release his recommended budget on February 23rd. In your message you indicate that the budget is "usually voted on and approved in January". In fact the County Executive's Budget is usually advertised in February, public hearings are held during March and the Board eventually "marks up" (or makes changes to the Advertised Budget) in April. We will not be actually adopting the FY 2010 budget until late in April.

I hope you will encourage your members to participate in some of the Community Dialogues that are taking place throughout the County this fall. Information can be found at These Dialogues seek suggestions from the community (and County Employees) on suggestions for finding cost savings and organizational changes in order to "right size" the cost of delivering services with less revenue.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A message to All Fairfax County CERT members-please read.

Hi folks,
I thought today might be the perfect time to bring something to the attention of the Fairfax Co.CERT family. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a problem...............

The proposed fiscal year 2010 budget for the county reflects the current economic climate. This budget goes into effect on July 1, 2009, but is usually voted on and approved in January. The county has a large budget shortfall, so cuts have to be made. You can view the budget cutting proposals at . The individual county departments,and their cost cutting proposals are broken down by "lines of business", or LOBs.

I want to bring to your attention the cost cutting proposals for the fire and rescue department. Our CERT program is administered under the auspices of the fire and rescue department. The cost cutting proposals that relate to this blog post are covered in the LOB's as "agency 92". Specifically, LOB 92-05 DIRECTLY affects our CERT program. Below is the full text of that budget cut proposal.

LOB 19 92-05 Volunteers $60,000 (slide 51)
Loss of this contribution will impact the Volunteer's ability to serve in a support role and enhance the mission of the Fire and Rescue Department.
Elimination of Program.

I know you're saying, "So how does that affect me?" Here's how-that $60,000 reduction will eliminate a position within the Office of the Volunteer Liaison within the county fire and rescue department. Here is how it was spelled out to me,word for word, from a member of the department....

" If the proposed cutting of this person's position were to occur, then the FRD (Fairfax Co. fire and rescue dept.)would be forced to cut the CERT program"

Clearly, this would affect EVERY CERT.....

"This person" in a CERT context is Dana Powers, a very sweet and capable person who administers the CERT program. She is the one that contacts you when classes start up, she is the one who makes sure you have the gear you need to take the training. She does a multitude of things to help make Fairfax County CERT the world class program it is. Without her, the CERT program goes away..........and the sad thing is that CERT is paid for by federal Homeland Security grant money. The county provides an administrator; that's it.

So, what can we as Fairfax County CERTs do about this problem? We need to make our voices heard. I know everyone who has taken CERT training is an enthusiastic supporter of the program. CERT helps us prepare ourselves and our families for disasters that may occur. Loss of the CERT program takes away the opportunity to train others about the need to prepare; to learn techniques that can save their own (and others') lives........

Here is an idea I came up with to try and stop this budget cut from occuring.

If every CERT wrote an email to our county executive AND to their district supervisor; we could at least make them aware that CERT is a useful program to Fairfax County.Here's how CERT is useful-we need to let them know this!

1. We are people who can help others in a disaster; rather than just being another hapless victim.

2.We can (and have) helped the fire department at events like Celebrate Fairfax-saving the county money by using a competent CERT volunteer rather than a paid employee for support functions.

3. In a disaster we CAN help the fire department-we did secondary searches of buildings as CERT 400 last week at the Capitol Shield exercise. We proved this last week.

4. Losing this one position effectively dissolves the CERT program in Fairfax County. The county LOSES a cadre of over 450 trained, motivated volunteers useful to county agencies. And volunteers cost NOTHING to the county.

5. The salary of one administrative position is a mere pittance compared to the help CERT members can provide to the residents of the county. Don't cut Dana's position!!!

Folks, here is a list of the county chairman and board of supervisors, by district. If you could send the chairman and your district supervisor an email, a phone call-let's make them aware that CERT is too important to lose!

You can get more information at this link:

Also,Here's a link to a district map, in case you are not sure of the district you live in. Thanks Micah!
Folks, those who know me know I am not a man to delve into politics. But, CERT is too important a program to lose.

your volunteer PIO

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

CERT ROCKS! At the Capital Shield exercise!

Hi folks!
On Monday, October 27th a number of CERT members participated in the National Capitol Region's Capitol Shield exercise. This is a yearly exercise in which local, state, and federal disaster response teams coordinate in a simulated, challenging and resource intensive disaster response effort.
CERT members participated initially as victims of a large scale disaster. Our day started at 5:30 am with check in to the site and moulage. Susy did her usual excellent job at making us all look ghoulish. We looked like refugees from a Halloween party once this was done.
We were then placed about the disaster scene. Susan looked really hurt,Cheryl and Cindy looked pretty "chewed up" too. Johnathan was lounging against a building battered, fluid leaking out of his ears. Woody,Bob,the other Bob,Henri and Jim just looked WAY messed up! Patty and Judy looked comfy in the drainage ditch,bruised and battered, reading their books. Sandra enjoyed being in a concrete culvert,with a massive "black eye". Brian looked great! with his guts hanging out. Eydie was just having a great time, lying bloodied on the sidewalk.
The responders came and triaged each of us,collected the wounded (worst first)and put us in the back of an ambulance for the ride to the casualty collection point. When we got there, we got triaged and were given nice white blankets for warmth (which weren't so white when we finished with them).
We took a break, one of the agencies there was kind enough to give us the use of a 15 passenger van to warm up in. We had some snacks, some water and a good time.
After this, we went back the building where our gear was stored and "geared up" for the next part of the exercise. We were told that Fairfax County CERT was called up to help in the disaster response!
Derek assigned our own CERT trainer Jim as the IC, Jim picked me to be accountability. The rest of us were broken into teams of two. Jim and I then reported to the command post for the incident. Jim told the IC of our capabilities as CERT members, and our willingness to help.We were given a briefing of the situation, told what our objectives were. We were to conduct a secondary search of a number of buildings on the property, pull out victims as we found them; then transport them to the casualty collection point. We were to report back to command when we had finished searching each building; noting any areas within the buildings (or buildings themselves) not searched. The overall command of the disaster response was the DC fire department. We were assigned the team name "CERT 400" and issued radios.
We went back to the assembled CERT team, briefed them on the task at hand and began the search in buildings closest to the center of the disaster. Folks, this was the first time EVER that Fairfax County CERT has been integrated into a multi agency, multiple jurisdiction disaster response operation. We were not "CERT volunteers" Monday-we were counted (and counted on) as a disaster response asset! This was a red letter day in Fairfax County CERT history.........................we weren't just "volunteers"-we were responders!
Folks, CERT 400 had a large area to search, with 8 seperate buildings within our area of responsibility. These consisted of large single story buildings with multiple rooms,some multi level structures, and a trailer or two. These weren't like searching in the burn building or high bay, folks! But, they were marked when teams entered, proper building searches were conducted, and each team marked themselves "out" of the buildings. The teams then reported back to CERT IC for reassignment. Some teams were pulled "out of service" for a rehab/rest period, and teams were rotated as necessary. We had a large area to search, and a lot of large buildings too. A rest period in operations like this was a must!
Several buildings were well out of our capability to search as CERT trained members, due to collapsed roofs, gas boilers,etc. The hazards in some of these buildings were real-real partially collapsed roofs, etc. This info was relayed back to the incident command post, professional responders would conduct a follow up search in those areas not accesible to CERT.
In one of the last buildings searched, two trapped victims were discovered. The CERT teams used leveraging and cribbing to extricate these victims, then carried them 1/4 mile to the triage area (although to the teams it might have seemed like carrying those victims 10 was very cold,windy and raining while the teams were doing this folks.)
Once the victims were in triage, and once all buildings within our area were searched/cleared/marked, our part of the exercise was over. We called the incident IC and reported "All buildings searched". We got back a "CERT 400, stand down. Job well done" from the DC fire IC .
We sat in the triage area and did a debrief of our activity, and Fairfax County CERT's part in Capitol Shield was over with. We were then given a tour of some of the areas where the professional responders were working their part of the exercise; we saw some VERY impressive operations going on folks!
That was CERT's day at Capitol Shield. It was a long day, but one filled with a lot of excitement and pride! Here's a list of those who participated in Capitol Shield; thank you all for participating and helping make a bit of Fairfax County CERT history!

Derek-who made it ALL possible.
our CERT trainer Jack-controller-he did a LOT of behind the scenes work to make this happen!
our victim actor coordinator Kevin-Made the victim part of the exercise a breeze!
our CERT trainer Susy-our moulage artiste' and controller for the morning!
Sandra from CERT 34-enjoying her first stint as victim!

The CERT 400 team
our CERT trainer Jim-IC
your volunteer PIO Terry-accountability
Team 1
Judy from CERT 29
Cheryl from CERT 31

Team 2
Richard from CERT 29
Henri from CERT 14

Team 3
Jonathan from CERT 29
Susan from CERT 29

Team 4
Brian from CERT 31
Eydie from CERT 23

Team 5
Patty from CERT 19
Kevin,our actor victim coordinator from CERT 20

Team 6
Cindy from CERT 32
Bob from CERT 29
Bob G from CERT 22

Thanks to all for an exciting day!

your volunteer PIO

Officer Procession Details

To follow-up on Kevin's "Just Take A Moment"

For anyone who is interested in coming out, the following information was released this morning and forwarded by a station Crime Prevention Officer. The date is not included in the press release, but he confirmed this is to take place tomorrow (October 30).

Fairfax County Police Department
Public Information Office
4100 Chain Bridge Road, Fairfax, Va. 22030
703-246-2253. TTY 703-204-2264. Fax 703-246-4253
News Release: 08/Funeral Info/(drg)
October 29, 2008
Funeral Procession for 2Lt. Frank Stecco

The funeral procession will leave Fairfax Memorial Funeral Home, 9902 Braddock Road at approximately 9 a.m. and continue to Cecil D. Hylton Chapel, 14640 Potomac Mills Road in Woodbridge. Police have limited the number of vehicles in this special procession from the funeral home to a drive by of the Mount Vernon District Station before proceeding to the chapel.

Members of the community wishing to pay their respects to 2Lt. Frank Stecco are asked to line the procession route at points most convenient to them. The proper show of respect and honor for civilians is placing the right hand over the heart and holding it there while the hearse and the family pass.

Police anticipate crowds at the Mount Vernon District Station prior to the arrival of the procession. Parkers Lane will be closed briefly to traffic. There will be no street parking around the station. The community is advised to park away from the station and walk in.

The procession is expected to travel at approximately 25 miles per hour causing delays. Motorists who encounter the procession anywhere along the route are asked to give the right-of-way. Please do not break into the procession.

The funeral procession route is as follows:
Departure from Fairfax Memorial Funeral Home is expected to begin at
approximately 9 a.m.
1. Left on to Braddock Road
2. Right on to S I495
3. Right on Route 1 south
4. Left on to Fort Hunt Road
5. Right on to Sherwood Hall Lane
6. Left on to Parkers Lane, pause at Mount Vernon Station
7. Parkers Lane changes to Collingwood Road
8. Right on to George Washington Memorial Parkway
9. Construction at Mount Vernon Street changes to Mount Vernon
Memorial Highway
10. Left on to Route 1 south
11. Left exit I95 South
12. Exit #156 Dale Blvd Route 784 W Dale City Rippon Landing exit.
13. Stay left on Potomac Mills Road ramp
14. Top of ramp go straight into 14640 Potomac Mills Road Hylton Chapel

Interment will take place at Quantico National Cemetery at approximately 2 p.m. Services are open to the public; however parking will be extremely limited. Funeral Motorcade to Quantico National Cemetery.

The funeral procession will exit Hylton Chapel at approximately 12:30 and travel to Quantico National Cemetery Route:
1. Exit left on to southbound Gideon Boulevard.
2. Turn left on Dale Boulevard.
3. Southbound I95
4. Exit on to westbound Dumfries Road
5. Enter Quantico National Cemetery on left

The public should be aware that traffic along the roadways where the procession will take place will be impacted. Please be aware of the possibility of congestion or delay as you travel Northern Virginia roadways on Thursday afternoon.

Please be patient as family, public safety personnel, friends and the community mourn the death of 2Lt. Frank Stecco.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Change your clock......

...change you battery! In this case, change out the battery in your smoke alarms, since we all have more than one....right?

The program is based on a simple premise; when you change the time on your clock for daylight savings, change out the battery in those smoke alarms. This weekend, in the wee hours of November 1, early on November 2, we will once again reset our clocks and "fall back", so take a moment to change out those batteries in your alarms.

There are many different brands of smoke alarms available on the market but they fall under two basic types: ionization and photoelectric.

Ionization alarms sound more quickly when a flaming, fast moving fire occurs. Photoelectric alarms are quicker at sensing smoldering, smoky fires. There are also combination smoke alarms that combine ionization and photoelectric into one unit, called dual sensor smoke alarms.
Because both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms are better at detecting distinctly different yet potentially fatal fires, and because homeowners cannot predict what type of fire might start in a home, the United States Fire Adminitration (USFA) recommends the installation of both ionization and photoelectric or dual sensor smoke alarms.

In addition to the basic types of alarms, there are alarms made to meet the needs of people with hearing disabilities. These alarms may use strobe lights that flash and/or vibrate to assist in alerting those who are unable to hear standard smoke alarms when they sound.

While you change out the batteries in your alarms at least once a year, you should consider changing your alarms themselves every 8-10 years, or, when you move into a new residence. Why? Do you trust your life to the former homeowner in hopes they changed the battery on the alarm regularly and maintained the alarm itself?

Having an alarm is only one part of your home safety plan. Ensure you have planned what to do in the event the alarm does sound and you have to exit your residence, not only in the light, but under the cover of darkness as well. Lastly, as I have said many times before, it is not enough to have a plan, you MUST practice the plan as well, your life, or the life of someone you love, depends on it.
For more information, visit the USFA's website:

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Just take a moment...

Take a moment from your busy day this week to reflect, a member of our Public Safety Family has left us. Take a moment to remind yourself, that 2nd Lt Frank Stecco (42) was out in the field training with rescue operations, making sure they are top-notch and well prepared for emergencies. Take a moment to remember that our Family does this and takes risks everyday. Remember that this 19 year veteran of the Fairfax County Police Department was doing what he loved, he would have done nothing else. Remember that he was well respected, loved and will be missed. Most of all do not forget that he leaves behind a wife and 3 children, that he loved.

As our Family mourns this coming week, take moment to remember that we too train to make sure we are top-notch and well prepared. We make sure our family and neighbors are safe. We do this because we love it and want to make a difference. We honor Lt Stecco as we too would do nothing else.

Take a moment this week to make a difference, thank a member of our Public Safety Family, thank your family. Thank God that we have Family like Lt Stecco, that is a role model for us. Most of all, just take a moment and grieve.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

NOAA Open House Sterling Va.

The NOAA Open House at their new facility in Sterling, VA, had Fairfax CERT in attendance. Even though Sterling is in Loudoun County, many people from all over the region stopped at our CERT booth while touring the Weather Station. We were in good company in the open sided tent. Virginia Emergency Management, FEMA, USGA, and the American Red Cross were some of the other booths around us. We were there Saturday and Sunday. Judy 29 manned the booth on Saturday and Terry 14 manned it on Sunday. Andrew 15 did double duty manning the Red Cross booth and CERT.

We had visits from Loudoun County CERT people and West Virginia Emergency Management to name a few. If interested people weren’t from Fairfax County, I told them to go to their county web site and search for CERT. I signed up a few people from Fairfax County interested in CERT. Not only did I “talk” CERT, but I encouraged people to put together and have ready a 72 hour emergency kit. I told them that with Daylight Savings Time ending (“fall back”) this is a good time to check the batteries in your smoke detectors, and to put together or pull out and check your 72 hour kit. We had new CERT magnets to pass out for this event. I attended the dedication of the new facility, until the wind picked up and I had to run out to check on our display. You would think that NOAA would have had a calmer day for the event.

Notables on hand were The Honorable Donna Edwards. U.S. Congresswomen, Maryland 4th District; Vickie Nadolski , Deputy AA, NOAA; Chris Strong, Warning Coordination Meteorologist, NOAA/NWS Baltimore/Washington Weather Forecast Office; Daniel Gropper, Thunder Eagle, Inc.; Margaret E. McKeough, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority; Dean Gulezian, Director, NOAA/SWS Eastern region; Bruce Sterling, Coordinator, Virginia Department of Emergency Management Region II; Topper Shutt, Chief Meteorologist, WUSA-TV Channel 9; and Jim Lee, Meteorologist-in-Charge, NOAA/NWS Baltimore/Washington Weather Forecast Office.
I got to tour the Facility and even got to see the “hardened” room where the staff would go if a tornado threatened the facility. Judy CERT 29.

Terry's report
I had some help Sunday, Andrew of CERT 15 helped on the display (and helped run the Red Cross display too-he was there to take Skywarn training.). There were a number of Fairfax Co. CERT members attending the open house, Sandra from CERT 34 was there to take Skywarn training, one of the ladies from CERT 21 came through; and people from Loudoun Co. OEM were there as well. Margaret from NOAA treated us to a private tour of the facility,
I wrapped it up around 5pm; Andrew and I broke down and loaded the displays for the drive home. It was a really "comfortable" event; people were pleasant, the display location was IDEAL, and people were pretty interested in CERT. A good day. Terry CERT 14

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hey CERT 34-Wanna play? As a victim at Capitol Shield?

Hi folks!
As you all know, CERT is scheduled to participate in the national capitol regions' Capitol Shield exercise on Monday, October 27th. CERT will be participating as victims, and for the first time as responders too.
Some of you currently taking CERT classes (CERT 34) have expressed interest to me and others in participating in this exercise. Unfortunately, you have not graduated from CERT training and the responder role in this exercise is for CERT graduates only.


After consulting with and clearing this with our victim actor coordinator and Derek, here's something you could do as a current Fairfax County CERT class student.

How would you like to be a VICTIM at the Captiol Shield exercise?

Below is a link to a story from last year's exercise; this will give you an idea of what this exercise is, what it is designed to do, how it is conducted and how important the role of victim is to the exercise planners.

Folks, if you are interested in playing victim, here is what we need from you.
1. an email sent to and expressing your interest in playing victim at Capitol Shield. (Kevin and I are both keeping running lists of responders and victims only.We want to make sure everybody is accounted for. makin' a list, checkin' it twice......... :)
2. Your name and CERT class number.
We need to recive this info as soon as possible. An email will come back confirming your participation in the exercise. A "Briefing" email will be sent out next week with information as to times, location and the like.

The exercise is scheduled to take place at the old Lorton prison site in Lorton, and the following is a tentative timeline for the day's events.
Fairfax County CERT is committed to providing role players and then after being rescued, transitioning into responders only on Monday, 27 October. CERT class students will be allowed as victims only.

October 27th, 2008 – Capital Shield Exercise-Lorton prison site.

0530 – moulage starts with support from Walter Reed Army medical center.

0700 – Exercise Starts

0710 – all role players are placed into the scene

Approx. 1200 – after being rescued, CERTs will be transitioning to responder activities. CERT class student victims will leave at this point.

Approx. 1730 – 1900 – CERT response ends

Yes, the drill starts at 5:30 AM. It will be an early start to an excitement filled day. You will need to wear clothes that can be torn, dirtied and stained-after all you will be portraying an incident victim. More details will be sent out in the briefing email.

Folks, If you want to see some of the things you're learning in class put in action, this will be an ideal way to do it. If your'e interested just let us know.

your volunteer PIO

Friday, October 17, 2008

Responder rehabilitation during incidents-new NFPA 1584 standards

Hi folks!
Rest and rehabilitation during emergency response operations is vital to a first responders' health and well being. Even in the context of our CERT classes and drills; one can easily understand that a
responder who's tired and worn out is simply not as effective as one that is rested, hydrated and alert.
Below is an interesting article and powerpoint presentation regarding new federal NFPA standards for first responder rehabilitation. Check it out, you may find the information quite useful.
your volunteer PIO

The Emergency Management and Response—Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EMR-ISAC) reviewed the new National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standard for firefighter rehabilitation. It outlines the responsibilities for responders at fires (and other incidents) by specifying the standards for rehabilitation (also referred to as “rehab”) to preserve continuity of operations.

According to the NFPA, rehab should occur whenever on-scene activities pose the risk of emergency personnel exceeding a safe level of physical or mental endurance. The types of incidents will vary from structural and wildland fires, hazmat incidents, multiple casualty incidents, and any prolonged operation during bad weather. The standard specifies that fire and emergency medical services are expected to take the lead in sharing the rehab concept with law enforcement and other emergency departments and agencies that take part at the scene.

The new standard defines eight key objectives for rehab. These include relief from environmental conditions, rest and recovery, and active or passive cooling or warming as needed. They also include rehydration, calorie and electrolyte replacement, medical monitoring, member accountability, and release for return to duty. Hot conditions will require shelter from the sun, sunscreen, hydration, and prevention of burns from contacting hot asphalt. Cold weather priorities may include shelter from wind and snow, frostbite prevention, increased caloric intake, and methods for thawing gear.

The area devoted to rehab may be as simple as a single rescue or ambulance unit. It also may be as complex as a tent equipped with generators and communications equipment. Access to fresh water is essential, although many Emergency Services Sector agencies prefer sports drinks that provide electrolyte replacement. Basic needs such as portable toilets should be considered early.

NFPA 1584 (Recommended Practice on the Rehabilitation of Members Operating at Incident Scene Operations and Training Exercises) can be seen at:

The Calendar is Back!

Many thanks to Micah, our Calendar Wrangler, who has worked to get our events loaded and up to date. It's posted at the bottom of the blog so scroll on down!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

NOAA Outreach event, Help needed

Calling all CERTs!! We have an event this Saturday and Sunday at the Sterling, VA NOAA center. This is NOAA's open house to show the public their new facility. You can even take a Skywatcher class and see weather balloons launched. Don't be shy. Come out and support your Fairfax CERT program. For more info email me.

Fairfax County Safe community forums scheduled

Hi folks!
The press release below was forwarded to me from Andrew of CERT 15. As we all know, budgets are tightening in the county due to the current economic situation. The county police department is holding a series of forums around the county to discuss the programs of most interest and usefulness to county residents. You may wish to attend one of these forums to voice your opinions and thoughts.

your volunteer PIO

Fairfax County Police Department
Public Information Office
4100 Chain Bridge Road, Fairfax, Va. 22030
703-246-2253. TTY 703-204-2264. Fax 703-246-4253
Media Advisory: 08/288/LHC
October 15, 2008
Safe Community Forums: Your Chance to Speak Up

The Fairfax County Police Department is hosting a second series of Safe
Community Forums beginning Thursday, October 16 at West Springfield High School,
Spartan Hall, 6100 Rolling Road, Springfield from 7 until 9 p.m. These forums provide
an opportunity for the public to offer valuable feedback on the services and programs
delivered by the Fairfax County Police Department.

The police department is seeking innovative ideas on how they can best provide
public safety services for the residents of Fairfax County as they plan for the future. As
budgets tighten, the public plays a critical role in letting police know which public safety
services are most important to them.

In addition to the October 16 Springfield forum, others will be held:

Wednesday, October 22, Lynbrook Elementary School, 5801 Backlick Road,
Springfield, 7-9 p.m.

Thursday, October 23, Fair Oaks Church, 4601 West Ox Road, Fairfax, 7-9 p.m.

**There will be Spanish interpreters available at all sites.
For more information, please call 703/246-2253.

Donations for disaster victims made easy!

Hi folks!
I found this while looking at .
your volunteer PIO

Donations For Disaster Victims Made Easy

Release Date: October 14, 2008
Release Number: FNF-08-077

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is urging people who want to help disaster victims to make donations through voluntary organizations that are active in ongoing disaster operations.

For those who don't know who to reach, there is an easy way to provide financial support, donate time and skills or donate needed products. The National Donations Management Network is a Web-based system where individuals and the private sector can offer their support online to the voluntary organizations that are actively engaged in the ongoing disaster.

FEMA works in partnership with the affected states, the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD), the Aidmatrix Foundation and the private sector to direct donation offers to voluntary agencies in need as they support the thousands of displaced people. FEMA and Aidmatrix entered into a cooperative agreement, in 2006, to develop this donations management network. The Aidmatrix Foundation offers an online way to connect private sector or individuals wanting to offer support to the leading organizations in humanitarian relief.

The National Donations Management Network is located at Visitors to this site have the option to direct their donation to national level voluntary agencies or directly to the affected states who are managing their own state aid portals.

For information on the voluntary agencies that play a vital role in disaster recovery, visit the NVOAD site at

Last Modified: Tuesday, 14-Oct-2008 18:30:57

Monday, October 13, 2008

CERT Victim takes 1st Place!!!!!

One of our CERT victims decided to make their pumpkin a CERT Victim at a BSA Venture Crew pumpkin carving contest in Thurmont MD. This pumpkin won first place. Notice the professional use of bandaging using duct tape. Oh, never feed your victim after an injury, as you can see.
Thank you Patty Cert 19 for sharing and the Boy Scouts! (and Vicky & Cassandra, the victims many love!?)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

October 11, 2008 Fire Prevention Outreach event

This will be a long report on the 11 October Fire Prevention Outreach event. We had 4 fire stations to man with booths. Terry was at the Centreville #17 Fire station, Jim was at the Burke #14 Fire Station, Kevin was at the Vienna #2 Station and I was at the McLean Fire Station.
I got to the McLean Fire Station early (0800) after running the big booth to Vienna for Kevin. I met Chief Clyde Clark, the VFD chief for McLean. Chief Clark told me that they expected about a 1000 people to attend the open house that day. The VFD Asst. Chief had a table and chair set up for me in their Bay. I was set up next to the CPR table. The Fire Department had many demos and booths for all ages. The McLean station has one of the high tower ladder trucks and that attracted many people with it reaching up into the air, 10 stories. A few of the things the fire department demonstrated were how they use the jaws of life and other cutting tools to take off the roof of a car to get at a trapped victim and they had a fire fighter show how his turn outs and scot pack go on. The children were able to see and feel and hear what a fireman in full gear is like. I had many people ask what CERT was and took information with them. Many people were glad to know that the county has such a program. Adding to the excitement was the fact that we were at an active fire station that responded to calls during the day. I was treated well and was invited and ate a great lunch.
CERT Outreach Coordin.

Report from Terry
I covered the Centreville VFD open house today. Mark from CERT 21 came out to help too.It was a really good event; traffic was brisk throughout the day. This station will definitely want CERT back at the next Fire dept. open house.
Report from Jim
Burke Station 14 sponsored a very ‘professional’ open house for the community. The preparation and organization was first class.
The lady in charge (did not get her name) meet me when I arrived and had our place all set up with table, chairs and a sign in short order.
(Before the day was over they were presented with the First Place in the Battalion plaque by the Fire County Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief).

Our CERT display (was placed between two of the event areas for the children (Smoke Alarms and Kitchen Safety) so I was able to attract the parents of the more than 600 children that passed by. I was able to sign up 5 individuals that were ‘really’ interested in CERT 2, and interested at least 20 more that were going to discuss the CERT Basic program with their neighbor associations and friends. Three people identified themselves as part of their community associations and were interested in bringing the CERT information back to their next board meetings.

Several people came by that were CERT in other parts of the country and did not realize it was active in this area. I received many positive remarks about CERT and the county effort by the way.

As people approach the display I could see interest in the ‘disaster’ pictures – but many thought this was a display for USAR. The “Are you familiar with CERT?” question and my lead-in explanation were well received as evidenced by the number that asked for the handouts before I offered them. Several children were attracted to the green helmet and brought a parent to the table.
I was able to handout more than 50 of the OEM cds – I made up a folder with printouts of the brochures so they knew what was on the CD.

As large as the Burke Station 14 event is each year it might reap dividends to have several (three) CERT members available next year. It would be hard to compete with ‘Stop-Drop and Roll’, the Kitchen Safety demo, and the Fire Alarm demo (all for kids) – but the parents, appropriately, would be easy pickins’ for some adult information.

Very enjoyable day – appreciated the Burke Volunteers’ hospitability (only noted the name Chief Bocknek but all were very helpful).
Chief Bocknek took a picture of me in front of the display on his cell phone to send to an office mate with Arlington County CERT ... something on the order of we have CERT also!

Also met Dana Powers and Jeff Katz from the Fairfax County Volunteer Office..

Report from Kevin
Our Victim/Actor Coordinator
I ran the CERT booth at the Vienna Volunteer Fire Dept's open house on Saturday October 11. The members and personnel could not have been more hospitable, they made sure that my table and chairs were ready before I arrived and they provided both breakfast and lunch. (it’s true, Fire Department food is awesome) The open house attendance was very good and there was a steady stream of visitors throughout the day. I had the 'wall' display which had the large pictures which really caught the attention of both the kids and parents. I spoke 'CERT' to about 100 folks. Though familiar with our program, several firefighters also asked some very detailed questions on how we deal with different scenarios. As always it is always pleasing to hear from the public that they had no idea this program existed and was appreciative that the County is very forward thinking in regards to emergency planning. I also had a visit from Supervisor Catherine Hudgins and we had a very nice chat about our program. Dana Powers from the County Liaison office also came by to say hello. I have several names for the next class and as victims. Many more had planned to visit our blog site.I especially want to thank President Howard Springsteen and Ch Jeff Grey for making my visit very enjoyable, I truly felt welcomed.Of course kudos'to Terry & Judy for managing this event and getting all the stations covered and the displays delivered.

Monday, October 6, 2008

FEMA online NIMS classes updated

Here is some information regarding updates to several of the FEMA online NIMS ICS courses. For those CERT members who have taken these courses, there is no need to retake them. Per Derek, your current course certificates are still valid.
For those CERTs who have not taken advantage of this free online training resource, point your web browser to . FEMA offers a large number of interesting classes you can take online through the Independent Study Program. Oh, did I mention the training is FREE?

your volunteer PIO

Independent Study Program Course Updates and Reminders

Several Independent Study Program (ISP) courses relating to National Incident Management System (NIMS) training have been updated recently.

The IS-100 has been revised and released as the IS-100.a. The Independent Study Program (ISP) stopped accepting IS-100 exam forms as of August 31, 2008. All students must now submit the revised IS-100.a. The interactive web-based course and downloads for classroom are available online at the ISP website, (select "NIMS Courses" from the main menu and then select IS-100.a from the listing).

Instructors providing classroom training and submitting final exams as a group for IS-100.a via paper OpScan forms by postal service (not online final exam submissions) will need to call the ISP office at 301-447-1200 to request the final exam questions be mailed. Group exam questions for IS-100.a differ from that which is found online. You can request additional OpScan answer sheet forms for any ISP courses at

In addition to the IS-100.a revision, there are coinciding revisions for IS-100.LEa, 100.PWa and 100.SCa. IS-100.HC has not yet been revised. Group training materials are not available for the IS-100.LEa, IS-100.SCa or IS-100.PWa.

The IS-200 has been revised and released as the IS-200.a. Like the IS-100.a, ISP stopped accepting the IS-200 exam submissions as of August 31, 2008 and students must now submit the IS-200.a. Instructors providing group training for the IS-200.a should follow the same directions as provided above for the IS-100.a. The IS-200.HC has not yet been revised.

The IS-800.a was revised in February 2008 and is now the IS-800.b. ISP no longer accepts final exam submissions for IS-800.a. The interactive web-based course for IS-800.b is available at the ISP website. Currently, no classroom materials are available for download for IS-800.b.

If you have any questions regarding the revised courses or group submissions please call the ISP office at 301-447-1200 or email the ISP at


IS-700 has not been revised or updated at this point. All existing materials are current and valid.

We encourage you to always check our website at for the most up-to-date information on courses and course content prior to delivering training.

Fire Prevention/Fire department open house, Outreach event

Calling all CERTs!!! CERT will be in four (4) different fire houses on October 11, 2008. We will have a CERT display set up in each of these stations. I'm just one person and as good as I am, I can't be in 4 places at once, sooo... PLEASE HELP....We will be at #2 Vienna 402/402, #14 Burke 414/407, #17 Centreville 403/417 and Mclean 402/401. If we can get plenty of help we shouldn't need to be at the fire stations all day. The event will be from 9am to 4pm. The fire staions will be feeding us lunch ( and I hear firemen make good lunch) We need to show our support for our fire departments. email me asap!!!

Fall for Fairfax

Fairfax County residents came out on a perfect day to enjoy many activities and booths that presented at the annual Fall for Fairfax held at the Government Center, Saturday October 4, 2008. Of course, Fairfax CERT was there, sandwiched between shiny red fire engines and the Fairfax police helicopter. Terry14, our PIO, Barbara14 and Judy29 manned the booth. A few CERT’s stopped by to say hello. We had CERT’s that took a CERT class from different parts of the country come by and ask how to “plug in” to our CERT program now that they live in Fairfax County. Many people stopped and asked what is CERT and ogled our pictures of moulaged children. We generated 12 names of people interested in attending either a CERT basic class or a CERT 2 class. All in all another successful event.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fire Prevention week is coming.....

Hot on the heels of Preparedness Month which ran the month of September, we run headlong into October and Fire Prevention Week. Fire Prevention Week takes place October 5-11 and commemerates, in part, the Great Chicago Fire which occured October 10, 1871. Fire Prevention Week is celebrating its 83rd year of informing people on the dangers of fire and how to be more fire safe.

The theme of 2008's Fire Prevention Week is It’s Fire Prevention Week: Prevent Home Fires! A special emphasis is being placed on leading causes of home fires – cooking, heating, electrical, smoking materials and candles.
The majority of of all structure fires occur in residences. We have talked about it during the stunningly spectacular fire extinguishers class, but do you regularly check for home fire hazards? Have you purchased a home fire extinguisher and placed it in an accessible location? I could go on and on, but instead I will direct you to the United States Fire Administration's webpage on preventing home fires.