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    MCLB Barstow firefighter creates nonprofit to benefit volunteer fire departments and bolster readiness

    Silver Valley Fire Alliance - A nonprofit by MCLB Barstow Firefighter Corey Sierra

    Photo By Laurie Pearson | Captain Marvin Torgeson and Steven Holland, firefighter with Fire and Emergency...... read more read more



    Story by Laurie Pearson 

    Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow

    Corey Sierra, a firefighter with Fire and Emergency Services aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow since 2012, has started a non-profit to benefit volunteer fire departments in the High Desert.
     The idea took seed when, in 2018, MCLB Fire Chief Paul Purdy called for a monthly training initiative with fire mutual aid partners.
    “Looking to contribute, I volunteered to spearhead the initiative,” Sierra said. “We came up with a two- hour, once-a-month gathering of all the mutual aid partners in the surrounding area, with a few goals. One, understand the responding capabilities of our community’s partners. Two, learn tactics, strategies, and techniques to stay safe on calls. Three, to improve relationships with our off-base partners.”
    The group meets on the first Tuesday of every month. The location varies based on the type of training being conducted for the month. Most often, it is held at Daggett Fire Station 372. They effectively called it First Tuesday Training or FTT.
    “Except for the halt last year, FTT has been running smoothly,” Sierra explained. “The mutual aid partners are learning from one another. The relationships have improved, and as a result, the effectiveness of emergency incidents has got [sic] better. As the coordinator of the program, I get to know all of our partners. What I noticed is that the three volunteer fire departments with whom we run calls face additional challenges that none of the other mutual aid partners have. While they are exceptional in the effort, their equipment is outdated, PPE is expired, Stations and apparatuses require maintenance, and additional certification training is needed.”
    As a result of these experiences and trainings, Sierra realized that he could, and wanted, to do more.
    “I can do more than just coordinate two hours of training per month,” he said. “I began to brainstorm ideas, and the most prevalent was to start a non-profit organization to help fill the gaps for our volunteer counterparts.”
    That is how the Silver Valley Fire Alliance was formed. The goal of SVFA is to help get Training, Equipment, and Recruitment to the Volunteer Fire Departments in the Silver Valley. 
    “We do this so the local community and commuters can have the best possible emergency service care,” Sierra said. 
    Seven mutual aid partners participate in SVFA’s First Tuesday Training Program. They include the Army’s Fort Irwin National Training Center Fire Department, Daggett Volunteer Fire Department, Yermo Volunteer Fire Department, Newberry Springs Volunteer Fire Department, Desert Ambulance, Mercy Air 66, and MCLB Barstow.
    “The FTT training schedule is planned for the year,” Sierra said. “Each mutual-aid partner takes turns to lead instruction on various topics. MCLB Barstow personnel have led two trainings this year and has participated as assistant instructors in another. In April, Firefighter Jose Peralta and Fire Fighter Zac Maring of MCLB Barstow led a training evolution on Pump & Roll operations for wildland initial attack. In June Firefighter Paramedic Warren Carson with Firefighter Manny Franco assisted Desert Ambulance personnel and Mercy Air 66 staff to conduct Emergency Medical Services training on bleed and hemorrhage control, vital signs, and vascular access set-up. Most recently in July, Capt. Marvin Torgerson Jr. and his crew, along with Ft. Irwin Fire, led a class on rapid intervention crew operations.”
    In addition to the First Tuesday Trainings, the Silver Valley Fire Alliance also implemented another program at the beginning of the 2021 focusing on physical fitness as a vital part of a firefighter's lifestyle.
    “It helps them run emergency incidents safely and effectively,” Sierra said. “That’s why SVFA implemented Station Fitness, or ‘Sta-Fit,’ to assist volunteers to acclimate to operating in firefighting turnouts in the Desert heat. Having a strong volunteer fire force outside of the base is critical to MCLB Barstow. From an emergency operations standpoint, it's important because they are our closest resource. If there is a major emergency on base, they are going to be the first agencies on the scene to help. The work SVFA is doing may make a direct impact on our base population. MCLB Barstow’s Fire and Emergency Services is also vital to the local community as their closest mutual aid partners.”
    Though the volunteer fire departments of Daggett, Yermo, and Newberry Springs are the beneficiaries of the monetary and equipment donations, SVFA is more than just a non-profit organization that helps get training, equipment, and recruitment to them. It is a means for all of the emergency responding agencies to connect, network and share knowledge and experience.
      “Although we got our 501c3 status in October of 2019, we officially started operating in the summer of 2020,” Sierra said. “I have a bachelor's degree in Business Management with a concentration in Marketing. That education has played a major role in managing SVFA. Once I committed to starting the organization, I hired a consultant who provided the initial training on how to start. She also assisted in organizing the documents required to submit to the IRS and the State of California. While waiting for the approval, I began in-depth research on how to operate an NPO. I read books on non-profit management, met with the Small Business Administration, spoke with other NPO directors, listened to podcasts, and of course, watched YouTube videos.
    In 2020 they raised approximately $6,300 in monetary donations. The majority of the funds were used to reimburse volunteers who attended paid certification classes.
    “Training at ‘No Cost’ to the individual volunteers is SVFA’s highest priority,” Sierra said. “We believe that even with outdated or weathered equipment, a well-trained firefighter can still perform safely and effectively. In a perfect world, our volunteer force will have both. That is why we used a portion of the funds raised to purchase equipment that each fire department needed, to include new hand tools, gloves, various hose fittings, binoculars, uniforms, badges, and helmet shields.  Additionally, there were donations of assorted Personal Protective Equipment, boots, and over 400 cases of bottled water. For instance, Capt. Hanify of Station 401, volunteered his personnel truck, trailer, and time to deliver 150 cases of bottled water to each department earlier this year."
    One of the ways they raise funds is by engaging in community events. One such event is a comedy show due to take place August 14 at the Cora Harper Fitness Center in Barstow. For details and ticket information, and more information about SVFA you can follow them on Instagram @SilverValleyFireAlliance and on Facebook @SilverValleyFireAlliance.



    Date Taken: 07.22.2021
    Date Posted: 08.03.2021 17:17
    Story ID: 402380
    Location: BARSTOW, CA, US 

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