The United States Fire Department Reserve Corps, (US FDRC) is an all-volunteer Community Emergency Response Team, (CERT) who compose our Emergency Team Response Services; staffed by highly skilled and dedicated members of the community. 

The Citizen Corps Program provides opportunity for citizen volunteers to become active and involved in homeland security and emergency management activities designed to make individuals, their families and their communities safer, stronger and better prepared to deal with a terrorist attack or a natural disaster. Citizen Corps offers five (5) core programs:

  • Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT)
  • Medical Reserve Corps (MRC)
  • Neighborhood Watch (NW)
  • Volunteers in Police Services (VIPS)
  • Fire Corps (FC)


In addition, Citizen Corps advocates and supports citizen involvement in any other volunteer oriented program designed and/or formed to support these goals.


Our National strategy for Citizen Corps program implementation and overall citizen preparedness is based on a teamwork, partnership and collaboration approach. Citizen Corps programs and activities are coordinated by a network of Councils established to facilitate the growth and development of the programs. 

CERT History

The CERT concept dates back to 1985, when the Los Angeles Fire Department recognized that in the early stages of a disaster - earthquakes in particular - local emergency responders would be overwhelmed, and basic training in disaster survival and rescue skills would improve the ability of community members to survive until responders or other assistance arrived.


Recognizing the universal value of this program, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) worked in conjunction with the LAFD to make the CERT program applicable to all types of hazards and developed a CERT training program which could be used nationwide and adapted to meet local conditions when the need arose.


The tragic events of September 11 remind us that disaster can strike anywhere or anytime, and that basic safety and disaster survival skills can mean the difference between life and death. CERT training empowers community members to prepare responsibly and respond appropriately when emergencies occur.

What CERT Teams Do

CERT members give critical support to first responders in emergencies, provide immediate assistance to victims, organize spontaneous volunteers at a disaster site, and collect disaster intelligence to support first responder efforts.

About CERT Training

If you join a CERT, you will receive basic-level training in the following sessions:


  • Session I, DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Addresses hazards to which people are vulnerable in their community. Materials cover actions that participants and their families take before, during and after a disaster. As the session progresses, the instructor begins to explore an expanded response role for civilians in that they should begin to consider themselves disaster workers. Since they will want to help their family members and neighbors, this training can help them operate in a safe and appropriate manner. The CERT concept and organization are discussed as well as applicable laws governing volunteers in that jurisdiction.


  • Session II, DISASTER FIRE SUPPRESSION: Briefly covers fire chemistry, hazardous materials, fire hazards and fire suppression strategies. However, the thrust of this session is the safe use of fire extinguishers, sizing up the situation, controlling utilities and extinguishing a small fire.


  • Session III, DISASTER MEDICAL OPERATIONS PART I: Participants practice diagnosing and treating airway obstruction, bleeding and shock by using simple triage and rapid treatment techniques.


  • Session IV, DISASTER MEDICAL OPERATIONS, PART II: Covers evaluating patients by doing a head to toe assessment, establishing a medical treatment area, performing basic first aid and practicing in a safe and sanitary manner.
  • Session V, LIGHT SEARCH AND RESCUE OPERATIONS: Participants learn about search and rescue planning, size-up, search techniques, rescue techniques and, most important, rescuer safety.


  • Session VI, DISASTER PSYCHOLOGY AND TEAM ORGANIZATION: Covers signs and symptoms that might be experienced by the disaster victim and worker. It addresses CERT organization and management principles and the need for documentation.


  • Session VII, COURSE REVIEW AND DISASTER SIMULATION: Participants review their answers from a take home examination. Finally, they practice the skills that they have learned during the previous six sessions in disaster activity.
    During each session participants are required to bring safety equipment (gloves, goggles, mask) and disaster supplies (bandages, flashlight, dressings) which will be used during the session. By doing this for each session, participants are building a disaster response kit of items that they will need during a disaster.


Total training is usually about 20 hours, scheduled in 2-4 hour modules, over a period of weeks or months, in order to address the scheduling needs of team members. It's held in the community or county where you live.


Training courses, student materials and equipment are provided free of charge.


If you are an individual looking to join a local CERT Team, contact your municipal emergency management coordinator to see if the program is already active in your community, or if a CERT program is being developed.


To find the telephone number of the municipal emergency management office, look in the telephone directory or search CERT programs by zip code by visiting FEMA website at


In addition, contact us at  to obtain information about US FDRC teams forming in your area.

CERT Public Service Announcement

CERT Public Service Announcement

National News Letter

(Please click the above icon, for more information)

Additional Education

US FDRC reservist members are eligible to participate in numerous training programs including at the National Fire Academy, Emergency Management Institute, Center for Domestics Preparedness, and many others governmental and non-governmental organizations. 

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