Fire Prevention 52: International Firefighters’ Day

By Eric Anderson, Structural Fire Training Specialist and Mark Gorman, Structural Fire Operations Program Manager
Group of NPS firefighters in front of a fire engine truck

International Firefighters' Day

This P52 is dedicated to the men and women who put so much of their time and effort, and risk their lives, to take care of us when we are in our greatest need. On May 4 of each year we celebrate those individuals during International Firefighters' Day.

Who are those dedicated individuals that our parks and communities count on when our lives and property are in danger? They are frequently our neighbors, coworkers, friends, and maybe even our own family members who have chosen to sacrifice a lot of their time, sweat, and energy to serve as volunteer or paid firefighters. In fact approximately 87% of all fire departments in the United States are either all volunteer or mostly volunteer!

The 408 National Park Service units are no different. We rely on men and women who have full-time jobs and families to volunteer their time to serve as firefighters. Hundreds of NPS, concession, and park partner employees hear the calling and join park-operated engine companies or enlist in community departments. For many park employees their primary job is something other than firefighting. Nonetheless, training demands are the same whether you're paid or not.

Employees wishing to respond with a park engine company undergo a comprehensive training program that integrates online activities with two weeks of hands-on training at the National Fire Academy located at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Arizona. The training they receive is internationally accredited, ensuring that our firefighters are just as prepared as any department in the nation.

So this week, please take the time to thank those who sacrifice so much so that we can sleep safely at night, knowing that in an emergency there are those among us who are willing to risk everything to help.

Fire Info for You

Park Structural Fire Coordinators
Four out of the original ten A123 controls targeted firefighter activities. Employees who are compensated by the NPS for time or work as a volunteer firefighter for either local departments or as part of a park response to structural fire events must comply with these standards. Identify if these controls affect any of the employees at your park.

Park Leadership
Support your employees who serve NPS engine companies or local fire departments as volunteers. Workplace demands are never ending, and it is easy to forget that you may need the service of these volunteers someday. Give them the time needed for training so they are safe and effective firefighters.