Canteen Support Operations
The Burbank Fire Corps Program maintains a canteening capability for onsite firefighter relief. In the event of a large local incident, volunteers will be activated through channels at the request of the Incident Commander, Battalion Chief or other authorized individual. Volunteers use either a department vehicle or POV to provide bottled water, electrolyte sports drinks and, potentially, food to Burbank and mutual-aid firefighters. Hydrated first responders are less likely to succumb to medical issues in the wake of a major incident.
In addition, the Burbank Fire Corps Program has been called out to provide canteen response for other non-fire related emergency services activity. The Burbank Fire Corps Program has been called out several times to support the Burbank Police Department with canteen support for extended law enforcement missions that have occurred.
BFCP members on Canteen duty operate behind the fire lines and are accordingly trained in incident awareness, safety and emergency protocol.
At the moment, this is strictly a relief operation, though as more EMT-qualified members join Fire Corps, the Canteen function may eventually expand to onsite firefighter rehabilitation, including vitals assessment and oxygen administration.
Frequently Asked Canteen Questions
Q: Doesn't the American Red Cross already do "canteening"?
A: Yes. Canteening is a subset of their Mass Care mission.
Q: If they've already got it covered, why are you doing it too?
A: Response time. The ARC guarantee is "under two hours", but local BFCP volunteers can generally be on-scene to support first responder rehab in under 45 minutes.
Q: "First responder" rehab? Does that mean you don't do canteening for the general public?
A: Correct – that is outside our scope. If an incident created a need to canteen for a displaced population, the City of Burbank would request ARC assistance. Only if the Red Cross was unable to comply would the Burbank Fire Corps or alternate City asset be mobilized.
Q: Do you perform other traditional Red Cross Mass Care functions too?
A: No. The City of Burbank works with the Los Angeles Region American Red Cross for Mass Care and Shelter functions, and we welcome their DAT response in Burbank to assist victims in the recovery process after single and multi-family fires.
Q: I see a lot "disaster" and "emergency" stuff here. Doesn't that mean the Red Cross and the Burbank Fire Corps essentially do the same thing?
A: No. While both organizations promote disaster awareness and preparedness, perhaps overlapping in the prevention aspect, the operational character of the organizations is very different. The Red Cross emergency and disaster response focuses on mass care, feeding and sheltering specifically, and plays an essential part in the starting the recovery process. On the other hand, Fire Corps functions as a Burbank Fire Department auxiliary, part of the Emergency Services Division, and focuses on Department support or direct disaster response, depending on what is needed. While the Red Cross sets up shelters, Fire Corps CERT teams may be conducting light search and rescue operations. Very complementary goals, yet very different missions.
Q: I've heard CERT LA people cross-train with the Red Cross. Do you that, too?
A: No. CERT LA has codified a partnership with the Red Cross that includes ARC training for medical and shelter operation to reach their designated "Level 2" and "Level 3" memberships. This is a noble way to increase activity and promote volunteer retention – and additional shelter workers are very useful to the City of Los Angeles – but this isn't necessarily compatible with the auxiliary support function that the Burbank Fire Corps executes for the Burbank Fire Department.
Q: So you'd discourage that kind of cross-training?
A: Not at all. As the lead partner with FEMA for ESF 6 [PDF], the American Red Cross fulfills vital functions in disasters. Their training is useful and their mission worthy. However, there may be deployment and command complications for folk that straddle both organizations. In declared disasters, BFCP members are sworn State of California Disaster Service Workers (DSW) and enter into the municipal (Fire Department) chain of command. Similarly, according to Red Cross partner-training policy, any volunteer that serves at an ARC-marked shelter becomes a Red Cross volunteer and is under their chain of command. Obviously, one can't simultaneously be in two disparate chains of command.
Q: So it's impossible to be a Fire Corps member and a Red Cross member?
A: Not at all. The Red Cross has occasional "Disaster Action Team" (DAT) deployments in Burbank and nearby areas and they serve other disaster and emergency functions that don't conflict with Burbank Fire Corps operations or priorities. The only critical decision point for a volunteer comes during a major disaster: would they rather serve by staffing a shelter or would they rather serve in Fire Department support/Search and Rescue operations?
Q: I'm a member of the American Red Cross. Can I join the Burbank Fire Corps?
A: Yes. We welcome anybody with a positive, volunteering spirit. For more information, check out the recruitment page.