Citizen Fire Academy: Building Outreach Capacity through Education and Service

Rhianna Simes, Citizen Fire Academy Coordinator

OSU Extension is please to introduce a brand new community-based educational program, the Citizen Fire Academy!

CFA training in Southwest Oregon. Participants learn how to identify fire risks, create fire resiliant forests and landscapes, figure out evacuation plans, and work with local partners and communities.  Photo by Rhianna SimesThe Citizen Fire Academy (CFA) is a collaborative education and service program designed to increase the outreach capacity of fire agencies and ultimately to maintain and enhance fire-adapted communities.  The goal is to increase implementation of defensible space and other Firewise practices and build human capacity to deal with wildfire.  

CFA’s ultimate vision is to promote, maintain, and enhance fire-adapted communities where residents and landowners know how to prepare for and safely react to wildfire.

In order to actualize this vision, the CFA program will train volunteers to support and expand natural resource agencies with community outreach and engagement activities related to wildfire prevention and safety. The development and delivery of the CFA training will achieve project goals to: educate and mobilize citizen volunteers; to increase agency outreach capacity in ways that help to create, maintain, and increase fire-adapted/Firewise communities across the state.  

A comprehensive CFA curriculum will cover fire science, home protection strategies, fuels reduction, living in a fire environment, evaluating risk, emergency planning, and volunteer outreach. The training will include 35 hours of classroom and field-based instruction, taught by subject experts and tailored to local conditions.  

Partners including Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), OSU Extension (OSU), rural fire districts, and other agencies and organizations will collaborate to design, deliver, and evaluate the curriculum. OSU will take the lead in curriculum development, coordination of training sessions, volunteer recruitment, management, and evaluation.  ODF and other partners will assist with curriculum development, delivery of training, and volunteer project coordination.

CFA will be pilot-tested in 4 regions in Oregon over 3-years and will train a total 60-90 volunteers to provide outreach. The trainings will take place in 3 high fire-risk areas and 1 moderate risk area in Oregon; covering northeast, central, southwestern and central Willamette Valley/coast range, respectively. Each CFA graduate will provide 35 or more hours of volunteer service to local fire districts, ODF, and other partners. Volunteer activities will range from community education to coordination of neighborhood fire planning activities.  

Some limited funding from OSU Extension and PNW Research Station, as well as a OSUEA Hoecker Innovation Grant are being used to initiate curriculum development and planning. The Citizen Fire Academy has also been awarded a $150,000 through the State and Private Forestry 2013 Western Competitive Resource Allocation Single State Grant to complete the curriculum, host trainings, and evaluate the program in 2013-2015. Additional funding and other provisions will be needed to secure the future of the program beyond the initial pilot trainings.  
If you are interested in being a part of this innovative new program, please contact the Citizen Fire Academy Coordinator for more details about training dates, volunteer opportunities, or curriculum development. We would love for you to be a part of the growing movement to keep Oregon and Oregonians safe from catastrophic wildfire!

For more information, contact Rhianna Simes, Citizen Fire Academy Coordinator
phone: 541.776.7371 x213