Using the fire service to build community engagement
Garrels-Bates, Melanie J.
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Modern American society lacks active citizen engagement in disaster preparedness. Membership in social and religious organizations, too, is declining. FEMA has acknowledged that it can no longer sustain response and recovery without a whole-community approach, yet efforts to engage citizens in the process of preparedness are limited; first responders alone are responsible for the success or failure of a disaster response. What can the career fire services do to better engage citizens so that communities can support themselves in times of disaster? Using a case study approach, this thesis analyzes Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) programs from two fire departments to determine which parts of the programs produced more engaged citizens. A critical component of citizen engagement is a dynamic and dedicated fire department liaison who can keep volunteers coming back to the organization.
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