Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Fairfax County CERT Enters New Training Partnership

Fairfax County CERT has entered into a new training partnership with the City of Alexandria, Virginia to train CERT students located in the south section of Fairfax County. This new training partnership will commence with the upcoming spring 2008 Fairfax County CERT training schedule.

Fairfax County CERT will be teaching three new classes starting March 17th, 2008. Two of the classes will be held at the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Academy. The other will be held at the city of Alexandria Fire Academy with portions of this class being held at the at the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Academy. This class will be taught by a mix of instructors from Fairfax County fire and rescue and Alexandria city fire department.

The new training partnership will introduce interoperability between Fairfax county CERT and Alexandria city CERT where none has existed previously. The new agreement ensures the best possible training for CERT members in the south Fairfax county area. This also ensures the most efficient use of Citizen Corps program funding.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Congratulations to Our Trained PIO Officer

Terry is now our trained PIO Officer after attending a PIO course through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) covering everything from interviewing on TV and getting your message out to writing press releases. Thank you for volunteering three days of your life to become better prepared on getting the CERT message out!

Please direct any media inquiries to Terry at . Also, he will be looking for volunteer support at a number of outreach events through 2008. Please consider helping out!!

Friday, January 25, 2008

CERT community outreach events update!

Hi folks!

Mount Vernon Town hall meeting is Saturday, February 2nd!

Remember, the Mount Vernon Town hall meeting is Saturday, February 2nd from 7:45am to 1:00pm. We still need some CERT help working the display at this event. If you're interested in helping out, please contact me at for further details.

Want to be a victim?
I also have tentative information on the next disaster drill to be held by the Army's 911th engineer company at Fort Belvoir.
For those CERT's interested, the next drill is scheduled for the February 26-29th timeframe. This date/timeframe MAY change though; as I get better information on the date I'll pass it along.
Got events? Got a group that wants to hear about CERT and emergency preparedness? Contact me at the email address above.Remember, have display, will travel!

your (now VDEM trained) volunteer PIO

Big Tip of the Green Hard Hat to Robert Mizer!

Bob Mizer, Volunteer Liaison with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department is retiring from his position. Our CERT program has flourished under his supervision and we wish him well on his new endeavors. Thanks Bob and congratulations on your retirement!!!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Looking to refresh your skills? New to CERT and want to explore more?

"Introduction to Community Emergency Response Teams", IS- 317, is an independent study course that serves as an introduction to CERT for those wanting to complete training or as a refresher for current team members. It has six modules with topics that include an Introduction to CERT, Fire Safety, Hazardous Material and Terrorist Incidents, Disaster Medical Operations, and Search and Rescue.

It's not a substitution for attending a refresher class or helping with the new CERT classes or attending the upcoming course series if you are new to CERT but it's a great way to review the classroom coursework and you should end up with a cool certificate if you pass the test.

To access, please visit CERT Training Materials.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

National Response Framework Released

The Department of Homeland Security released the National Response Framework (NRF), successor to the National Response Plan on Tuesday, January 22, 2008. The NRF is the guide to how the nation conducts all-hazards response and describes specific authorities and best practices for managing incidents that range from local to large-scale terrorist or catastrophic natural disasters. The National Response Plan (NRP) is still in effect until the National Response Framework becomes effective on March 22, 2008. You can read the press release for more details. Information on the National Response Framework including Documents, Annexes, References and Briefings/Trainings can be accessed from the NRF Resource Center.

The Spring Calendar is Finalized ...

Well, until the academy needs the space currently reserved for us! ;)

You can subscribe via the link on right toolbar or you can browse it at the bottom of the blog. All the class excitement starts in the end of March.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Know People Who Are Interested in Joining CERT?

If you know someone who is interested in signing up for CERT training, please have them contact the Fire and Rescue Department Volunteer Liaison's Office at 703-246-4683 or pass them along to the online form at where they can sign up via the web.

Thanks for getting the word out!

Congratulations to the New Fellow Amongst Us ...

The Department of Homeland Security Fellows Program aims to develop, motivate and energize collaborative, accountable, results-oriented career leaders. The program is designed to be a transformational experience with a unique concentration on leadership and management challenges specific to the Department of Homeland Security.

Our own Mike Forgy (formal title - Michael O. Forgy, Executive Officer, U.S. Fire Administration) has been selected as one of four FEMA employees and one of 25 Department employees to participate in this prestigious program.


Proposed Spring 2008 Calendar for CERT

I have loaded the proposed Spring 2008 Calendar into the google calendar at the bottom of this page. As always, this is fluid until the final schedule is issued with the class invitations but it should allow you a general idea of when the next three classes will meet this semester.

Note that the kick-off class "Introduction to CERT" for all three classes is tentatively scheduled for March 26, 2008 so to see the class dates, you will need to browse the Months of April, May and June. The final exercise is currently scheduled for June 8, 2008.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Some CERT "stuff" and event info for you.....

Hi folks!
I want to wish each and every one of you a happy, healthy and safe 2008. I want to start the year off right with some information to pass along to you.
Below are some snippets from the current EM update put out weekly by the folks at the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. You can access their website at . There's LOTS of preparedness info available there; in addition you can sign up for weekly email updates. The stories below are from this weeks' edition.
FEMA is now offering online subscriptions to updates and info on their various programs; in addition to news releases and disaster declarations. The neat thing is that you can have these sent by email; in addition you can have alerts sent as text messages to a PDA phone as well.
The second story concerns the state of Virginia's emergency operation plan, which has just been updated. It is viewable at the link below. Volunteers and the management of disaster volunteers has now been added to the state's plans. The last story concerns some disaster response and mitigation related bills that will be introduced during the Virginia General Assembly this session; which looks pretty interesting.
CERT from the volunteer public info officer side of things so far is starting off rather nicely. It may be January, but people and groups are still VERY interested in the CERT program and message. The calendar below looks a bit sparse perhaps; but don't worry. I can guarantee it will fill up very quickly!
Actually, we already have two community outreach events scheduled. The first one is tonight at the Kirkwood Presbyterian Church in Springfield. Kevin Mullins of CERT 20 and I are going to be "talking CERT" to the Boy Scout troop at the church this evening from 7:30pm to 9:00 pm.
The second event is on Febuary 2nd; this is the Mount Vernon District 21st annual town meeting. This event will be held from 7:30 am to 1:00 pm at Mount Vernon High School in Alexandria. We'll have the CERT info booth set up there, we'll explain what the CERT program is about to the attendees and have disaster prep information handouts for them as well . I'd like to "start the CERT year out right" and have a highly visible presence for this event. There are currently few trained CERT's in the south end of the county and it would be GREAT if we could get more there. Would you like to come out and "talk CERT" to the community? If you would, let me know! Just drop an email to me at and lets' show the Mount Vernon community what "more rock less talk" REALLY means!
Do you have a homeowner's association, neighborhood watch group, church group or organisation that might be interested in hearing about the CERT program? If you do; let me know! Just email me with a time and a date; CERT will be there. "Have display and handouts, will travel" :)

your volunteer PIO
FEMA offers electronic news updates
The Federal Emergency Management Agency offers an online subscription to news updates, including information about disaster declarations, mitigation programs, the National Incident Management System and the National Response Framework, as well as regional news releases. In addition to an e-mail inbox, news updates can also go to wireless devices, or users can subscribe to an RSS feed. Register at

Updated state Emergency Operations Plan
Gov. Tim Kaine has approved the updated Commonwealth of Virginia Emergency Operations Plan with Executive Order 60. The 2007 updated plan:

  • Embraces National Incident Management System and National Response Framework concepts and principles
  • Places the response plan and the recovery plan in the same document to ensure seamless operational response to any hazard
  • Incorporates and revises the annexes for 17 emergency support functions, which are groups of the most frequently used operations in emergency response
  • Includes a pet evacuation and sheltering component that fulfills legislation from the 2007 session of the General Assembly
  • Upgrades the Family Assistance Plan component, which outlines how the Commonwealth will provide assistance to disaster victims

The new plan also includes a Mass Evacuation and Sheltering Plan and two new emergency support functions: Military Support (ESF 16) and Volunteer and Donations Management (ESF 17).

The COVEOP is updated at least every four years or as needed. The plan is available online at

New disaster laws under consideration
Several bills that could impact emergency preparedness and response will be considered during the 60-day session of the 2008 General Assembly. Bill summaries, along with status and links to the General Assembly Web site, are available online at

CERT Online Calendar

It's empty for now but the Spring 2008 schedule is in the works ... stay tuned! You can access it at the bottom of this blog but you can also subscribe to the calendar from clicking this button.


A Big THANK YOU to Alexandria CERT

As part of our final exercise, Andrea Dies and Brian Jacobson from Alexandria CERT volunteered their time serving as evaluators of our program. They took notes on how effectively our training had been implemented and worked with a number of our own members (Susy, Terry, and Jim ) to create an after-action report. They participated in a number of meetings (in person and via email) to provide us valuable feedback to improve CERT in Fairfax County. They also provide an "out-of-jurisdiction" point of view essential to gathering unbiased recommendations.


Friday, January 11, 2008

CERT Volunteer Recognition - Don't Be Shy!

First, I want to wish everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year. To start off the new year strong, I wanted to take the time to recognize some of our volunteers. From training to public awareness to community outreach to public safety to student programs to ...

The 16th Annual Fairfax County Volunteer Service Awards will be held on Thursday, April 24, 2008. I would like to personally nominate EVERY one of our CERT volunteers who qualify for the Benchmark Award.

The Benchmark Award is a noncompetitive category and all nominees receive a complimentary invitation and recognition at the event.

Adult nominees should be an individual who has given at least 250 or 500 hours of service to a particular agency in calendar year 2007. Youth who have completed at least 100 hours of volunteer service will be honored at the event.

Additional information about the awards can be found at

Included on the website is a Benchmark nomination form. If you can please provide the basic information, I can work with you to ensure that I have all the other necessary information.

This is a simple way to recognize our volunteers who put in quite a few hours in 2007.

PLEASE GET ME THE INFORMATION for those that reached the minimum number of hours by JANUARY 31, so I have time to complete the nomination packet.

Stay Safe!

Andrew S. Levy, Volunteer
Fairfax County Citizen Corps Council, Chairman

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Smoking and Home Fires

U.S. Fire Administration Kicks Off Public Safety Campaign to End #1 Cause of Preventable Home Fire Deaths - Fires Caused By Smoking Materials

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9 — The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) announced today a Smoking & Home Fires Campaign to put an end to the number one cause of preventable home fire deaths -- fires started by smoking materials. The campaign is designed to alert smokers and those who live with smokers about simple steps they can take to stop the fire before it starts in their home. The USFA, which is a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is encouraging smokers to "Put It Out. All the Way. Every Time."

"Most smoking-related home fires happen on beds, furniture, or in trash when smokers do not put cigarettes all the way out, toss hot ashes in the trash or fall asleep while smoking," said U.S. Fire Administrator Gregory B. Cade. "What's important to remember is that smoking home fires can easily be prevented. It just takes a few seconds to light up -- and a few seconds to make sure that cigarette is really out."

Chief Cade pointed out that nationally, 23% (46 million) of adults are smokers, and in some states that percentage is as high as 28.7%.

Every year, about 1,000 people are killed in smoking-related home fires. According to the USFA, one-in-four people killed in home fires is not the smoker whose cigarette caused the fire. In fact, 34% were children of the smokers and 25% were neighbors or friends of the smokers. Too often, the victim is the firefighter trying to save them.

On January 12, 1992, a seven-year-old Maryland boy died as a result of a fire caused by smoking-related materials, as well as Kenny Hedrick, a volunteer firefighter, who was trapped and died in the basement of that home. Kenny's mother Cathy Hedrick, Director of Survivor Programs for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation said, "The cause of this tragic fire that took the lives of two innocent victims was a smoldering cigarette in the family room."
To demonstrate how quickly a smoldering cigarette can turn into a raging fire, Chief Cade showed a video demonstration at the campaign launch in Washington D.C. The video can be seen at

The Smoking & Home Fires Campaign warns about the dangers of careless smoking and urges smokers to do it outside if they need to smoke. Inside the home, people should use big ashtrays with a stable base and really put the cigarette out, don't just tap it into the ashtray. People should especially make sure their cigarette is fully out if they are drowsy due to medicine or alcohol.

The USFA's Smoking & Home Fires Campaign is working in partnership with 13 national organizations to spread the message about fire safety including the American Fire Sprinkler Association, BIFMA International (Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer's Association), Burn Foundation, The Center for Campus Fire Safety, Fire and Life Safety Section (part of IAFC), Florida Association of Fire and Life Safety Educators (FAFLSE), Home Safety Council, International Association of Fire Chiefs, National Association of Hispanic Firefighters, National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, Polyurethane Foam Association, Residential Fire Safety Institute, and Safe Kids Worldwide.

The campaign materials include a CD Toolkit with English and Spanish posters, brochures, fact sheets, public service announcements, PowerPoint presentations, an engaging video of a smoking-home fire demonstration, and more. The materials are available online and can be ordered by visiting Fire departments and community organizations are encouraged to use these free materials.

The U.S. Fire Administration has a mission to reduce life and economic losses due to fire and related emergencies through leadership, advocacy, coordination and support. It is the federal leader in public fire education and awareness, fire service training, fire-related technology and data collection.

SOURCE U.S. Fire Administration


Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Winter Safety E-Cards

You can send e-cards to friends and family to say hello and at the same time remind them about the importance of winter safety. Please visit to send one today. I think I will send Mike the "heat your home wisely" one ... ;)

Resolve to be Ready in 2008!

The New Year is a perfect time to Resolve to be Ready. The Ready Campaign has outlined the top 10 items for a basic emergency supply kit: water, food, radio, flashlight, first-aid kit, whistle, moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties, wrench or pliers, local maps, and personal items.

"Having a plan can make all the difference," said Secretary Chertoff. "The time for individuals, families and businesses to plan is now, and to resolve to make readiness a priority for 2008." Read More at

Some other ideas:
You can speak to your civic association about what you learned in CERT to see if you can form a CERT in your neighborhood,
Come help during the next class,
Help with other CERT outreach items that our PIO posts,
Assist your business or workplace by supporting workplace preparedness