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updated: 11/26/2013 8:17 PM

Des Plaines Fire Corps Seeks Volunteers

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Karen Kozenczak

If you are a dedicated individual, 21 years of age or older, living in Des Plaines or within a 10 mile radius, with a true desire to assist first responders during emergency situations and with emergency preparedness education, Des Plaines Fire Corps wants to hear from you. Fire Corps is seeking volunteers who are interested in making a commitment to once-a-month emergency training, an organizational meeting every two weeks and who have a passion for helping others should the need arise.

Fire Corps currently consists of 14 volunteers, many of whom have other jobs or who are retired, who report to Des Plaines Citizen Corps Division Coordinator Franco Portera. The unit is on call 24 hours/7 days a week, thus the need of having a large volunteer pool to secure a response when calls occur.

A diverse group, the volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds and interests from physical therapists to professional truck drivers to aspiring police officers to retirees from both the public and private sector. There are individuals, siblings, and couples. Some volunteers from outside Des Plaines originally sought Des Plaines Fire Corps because their hometowns did not offer a comparable organization.

Volunteers receive ongoing training in areas such as traffic operations and support, road closures, emergency vehicle operations, scene illumination, weather spotting training by the National

Weather Service, Hazardous Materials training by the State of Illinois, Fires & Wires training by ComEd and Pipeline Safety.

Fire Corps is called to supplement first responders during times of emergency and City events and support the Police and Fire Departments as needed. The group is a partner program of Citizen Corps, part of the Des Plaines Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency. Some of the community events Fire Corps has assisted at include the Des Plaines Fall Fest, the Des Plaines Summer Fling, the July 4th Parade, Memorial Day, Tour DeVillas Bike Race, and the Community Fair, to mention a few. The group has played a vital role during recent floods, storms and traffic accidents.

All candidates are required to undergo a background investigation, will be fingerprinted and will serve a one year probation.

"Volunteers, be they with Fire Corps or Volunteers in Police Services or the Medical Reserve Corps, are a significant part of our emergency response planning, and contribute to the safety and well-being of everyone in Des Plaines," Des Plaines Police Chief Bill Kushner said.

"If you are interested in learning more about Fire Corps, have a desire to assist first responders and the community, and are interested in joining a group of fine, dedicated individuals, please call 847-391-5396 or email us at," Des Plaines Homeland Security & Emergency Management Deputy Executive Coordinator John Pluta said.