The BMFPD Third Arm was established in 2006. It is a neighborhood volunteer organization as are the other two “arms” of the BMFPD: Fire/Medical Responders and the Auxiliary.
The need for the Third Arm became clear during the March 2006 Sunshine Canyon Fire, when firefighters were utilized to direct traffic and conduct door-to-door evacuation notifications, rather than being deployed to fight fires.
The Third Arm was established to assist the BMFPD in the following activities (It should be noted that not all areas of activity are fully staffed and operational):
All Third Arm volunteers are required to submit to a background check. Once volunteers agree to serve they receive classroom and field training, appropriate safety equipment, and access to broader training as appropriate.
Pet rescue is an integral part of safely evacuating individuals. We are developing a neighborhood self-help system for identifying pets to evacuate when district homeowners are absent. Realizing the need for rapid evacuation of people and animals, and understanding that non-authorized professionals will be excluded from fire-zone areas, the responsibility for removing animals primarily falls on a system of small neighborhood watch groups who assist each other.
In preparation for an emergency the Third Arm is working on the following:
Third Arm volunteers are assisting firefighters in the development of a database with information about the District and the individual households in the District. An internet based data collection tool is being developed by a highly qualified Third Arm volunteer. Data which is collected may be used in the event of an emergency to protect firefighters, to rescue people and animals, to provide assistance to those in need, and for notification purposes.
The database, which is currently being developed, includes the following types of information:
In the event of an evacuation, individuals who are specifically trained to manage and direct an evacuation of people and animals allow trained firefighters to concentrate on the fire or other emergency. BMFPD Chief or his Incident Commanders will activate Traffic Volunteers, who will provide signage and traffic assistance as residents are notified by phone (or email or text) or in person to vacate their homes. In addition, the Chief will use the database to manage assistance to individuals who may have special needs.
(As of Fall 2008, the Help Coordination function is still in development. Please contact us if you are interested in assisting us in this critical area.)
During a fire or other emergency many individuals offer to help. Very often, because preplanning has not occurred for this process, there are people who need help and people willing to help but no mechanism for putting the right people together. On the expectation that only a part of BMFPD would be under evacuation orders during a fire or other emergency, much of the help could be provided within our District. For example, we will need to find people who are willing to shelter evacuated people and/or animals (see above).
Another area of help could be in the form of willingness to perform tasks on behalf of firefighters or other residents. For example, a firefighter may have agreed to pick up a child at school but can’t call alternative authorized and pre-approved folks and obviously can’t pick up the child. A Help Volunteer could contact back-up authorized personnel to arrange pick-up. Another example: when fighting fires in the mountains, cell phones often do not function. If a firefighter could get a written message to the staging area, a Help Volunteer could make phone calls relaying information for the firefighter.
Prior to an emergency the Help Coordination group needs to:
During an emergency the Help Coordination group would:
Help Coordination Volunteers would be active during an emergency, but would mostly be functioning at a distance from the location of the emergency so fire training and equipment would not be required.
During wildfire and other emergency incidents within the District, BMFPD Incident Commanders (IC) determine if Third Arm Traffic Volunteers should be called into action. If Traffic assistance is needed the IC will initiate the callout by contacting a Third Arm Phone Tree Volunteer. The Third Arm Phone Tree Volunteer will record and relay all pertinent information such as which station to report to, location of the incident, number of Traffic Volunteers needed, etc. The relay of information is first passed on to other Phone Tree Volunteers who are instructed to callout a specific number of Traffic Volunteers.
Traffic Volunteers, under direction of the firefighter Incident Commander, direct traffic away from or around the scene of an accident or toward appropriate emergency exits in case of fire.
You can become a Traffic Volunteer upon completion of one-time classroom and on-the-street training sessions.
Please fill out a Third Arm Volunteer Application today. Indicate your contact information and activities in which you may be willing to assist.
Please keep in mind: