Volunteer intern Wei-Ho Li stands with regional structural fire manager Raul Castillo on the National Mall.

Volunteer intern Wei-Ho Li (right) with National Capital Region structural fire manager Raul Castillo, attending a July 4th fireworks site meeting with staff from the National Mall, United States Park Police, and vendor representatives.

Structural Fire Program's Use of Volunteers-In-Parks (VIPs)

Since 2001, the NPS Structural Fire Program has had a team of VIPs who assist the National Park Service with fire protection issues. They have worked for regions, the national office in Boise, Idaho, and at sixty NPS sites, from Katmai National Park in Alaska to Big Bend National Park in Texas and the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia.

The most recent volunteers in the field include a retired fire protection engineer, an internationally known fire protection consultant, a college instructor teaching fire sprinkler design and two retired fire department inspectors. Except for very large projects, these professionals can resolve the same fire protection problems that we would typically pay architects and engineers to solve as well as diagnose and repair fire protection system equipment.

VIPs have been and continue to be a tremendous asset to the parks and to the NPS Structural Fire Program.

Among the skills and abilities associated with VIPs in the Structural Fire Program:


Alarm system inspection

Alarm system plan check

Alarm system problem solving

Bid evaluation


Solving exiting problems

Fire investigation

Fire pump and controller testing

Fire pump and controller problem solving

Fire inspections

General consulting


Progress/acceptance inspections

Quantifying degree of risk for specific situations

Responding to ontracting officer’s questions

Responding to uestions from regional structural fire managers

Requests for information on contracted projects

Specification review

Sprinkler system inspection

Sprinkler system plan check

Sprinkler system problem solving

Submittal review


Water supply evaluation/problem solving

Periodic fire alarm inspections

Periodic fire sprinkler inspections