CAL FIRE VIPs More Than 25 Years of Experience
On July 1, 1980, CAL FIRE formally implemented, and supported with redirected funds, an innovative and creative fire prevention program called the Volunteers in Prevention (VIP) Program. A Budget Change Proposal (BCP) redirected nine fire captain specialists and 110.4 fire prevention assistant person-months, restored by Senate Bill 201, to the CAL FIRE budget for the permanent initiation of this ground-breaking fire prevention program. Some $270,000 was budgeted to support the program annually.
The objectives of the VIP Program were to involve and utilize citizens and public service groups in non-salaried positions to reduce man-caused fires by 10 percent per 100,000 population within seven targeted areas: Lake-Napa, Shasta, Nevada,-Yuba-Placer, Amador-El Dorado, Santa Clara, Riverside and San Diego.
Today, there are approximately 2500 VIP's statewide, in all 21 CAL FIRE Units, averaging over 60,000 hours of volunteer service to CAL FIRE. In exchange CAL FIRE pays meals and mileage for their expenses.
History has shown that when VIP teams provide fire prevention teaching in grades K-3rd, child-related fires in those areas have dropped by 50 percent. In addition, VIPs educate thousands of children and their parents about fire prevention by participating in fairs, displays, and parades each year. Volunteers are trained to make preliminary wildland homeowner property inspections for fire safety as required by Public Resources Code 4291, and to discuss with homeowners ways to make their homes fire safe. These one-on-one contacts are an increasingly important education tool as the population in California's wildlands continues to grow.
VIPs are trained to assist CAL FIRE's efforts during wildland fires and other emergencies by providing information to the media and public. A specialized group of volunteers (HAM radio operators and CB radio groups) provide additional communication networks for CAL FIRE during emergencies including wildland fires, earthquakes, and floods.
To find out more about becoming a VIP, contact your nearest CAL FIRE unit.