In the past few years California has experienced a tremendous increase in the number of wildland fires and fires will continue to cause resource loss and financial drain on the public.
- Conduct fire prevention education programs at preschool and elementary schools.
- Assist CDF in major fire information centers.
- Assist in disseminating fire prevention education and information materials to local citizen groups, business, and schools. Also assist in fairs and other fire prevention displays.
- Patrol selected hazardous areas during fire emergencies or periods of high fire hazard. These are called "Red Flag" patrols, as one goal of this program is to reduce fires caused by equipment use, arson, debris burning, and children playing with fire.
- Assist CDF in communications during fire emergencies.
- Inspect rural homes to advise homeowners of proper vegetative clearance around structures and safe incinerator standards.
- Inspect equipment such as chain saws, lawn mowers, and tractors to see that they are equipped with legal spark arresters and in fire safe conditions.
Volunteers may apply time spent working in the VIP program toward experience needed to meet entrance requirements for future forestry examinations. Citizens performing voluntary fire prevention duties are covered with Workers Compensation Insurance. Unreimbursed expenses incurred may be considered "contributions" for Federal and State income tax purposes.
The VIP Amateur Radio program is an important program in several of California's 22 Ranger Units. Some Amateur Radio operators serve as "shadows" with battalion chiefs and fire information officers. (See Bulletins 161, 164, and 208.) Many VIP communications volunteers are in a RACES unit. The VIP can turn to the RACES for mutual aid support and vice-versa. The "radio officer" in a VIP unit is called the "hamco" or ham coordinator. In some counties the county RACES unit and the VIP communicators are one and the same. Both activities have training requirements to assure safety, compliance with the incident command system, (ICS), and commonality of operations and performance.
---Stan Harter, KH6GBX