Fire Department
Fire Department

CERT Volunteer Meeting

December 8, 2011

997 Cedar St.

Meeting Minutes


18 volunteers attended December's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Volunteer meeting.  Two new members were in attendance.

What's New?

Some changes are in store for Berkeley CERT in the coming year.  Berkeley CERT will be working to establish a response team call out procedure and operating guidelines.  Along with this, additional training beyond the CERT curriculum will be integrated into training offerings.  Red Cross Shelter Operations and flood control training are planned for early 2012.  If you are interested in becoming an affiliated response team volunteer with Berkeley CERT email Khin Chin at

An important function of CERTs is to be familiar with the community's hazard profile.  One aspect of Berkeley's vulnerabilities to seismic disasters is soft story construction.  Many members of the Berkeley public may not be familiar with this program.  To find out more about this topic and the City's soft story program visit the Associated Bay Area Government's Earthquake and Hazards program page and Berkeley's Building and Safety's webpage on soft story.

Disaster in Berkeley?

The 5th alarm 2441 Haste Street Fire on November 18, destroyed all residential apartment units and ground floor businesses of the Sequoia Apartments at the corner of Telegraph Avenue.  All tenants were accounted for and safe.  Berkeley CERT was called upon to stand by as possible volunteers to help support the Red Cross should a shelter be opened.  Although temporary shelter needs were met and the City and the Red Cross did not need to open an emergency shelter, this event is a reminder of the need for the community to pull together and to work towards building capacities to be self sufficient in a disaster.  A tremendous collaborative effort by the entire community was required to respond to this event and to continue now into the recovery process.  Berkeley CERT will need to continue to work towards increasing its capacity and value as a community resource in times of need in disaster.

Program Development

Great work, everyone!

Groups continued to work on projects in CERT training and community preparedness for the upcoming year.  The collaborative effort among small working groups is reaching its maximum - in terms of sharing information.  It's time to share even more of our work across working groups so that we can take advantage of developments in all aspects of the program.  A file sharing process will be developed.  Stay tuned...

Berkeley's Emergency Operations Center

What is the Emergency Operations Center?  How does it fit into emergency response in a disaster?  How do Berkeley CERT participants fit into the response?

The City's Emergency Operations Center (EOC) activates when a significant emergency event requires coordination of city resources and the coordination of information needed to respond to the incident or incidents.   The Public Safety Building's physical construction, infrastructure, and redundant power and technical systems are some of the characteristics that make this buidling the primary choice for establishing these operations.   City staff from all departments staff the EOC using the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command System (ICS) protocols.   CERT responders adopt a similar organizational structure as well, covered in the CERT Organization class.  Staffing levels correspond to the needs of the incident and can expand or contract depending on the resources required.

SEMS Organizational LevelsWhen resource capacities are overwhelmed the EOC will request assistance through the Operational Area (Alameda County).  The protocol for assistance request will continue up through the State and the Federal Levels as local resources become fully committed.  An important concept to keep in mind is that "All Disasters are Local".  This means that even though resources and assistance may come from higher levels of government, ultimate responsibility for disaster response and recovery lies at the local level.  On a personal and family level, citizens have a responsibility to prepare to be on their own for extended periods following a disaster and similarly, at the local level, the City and community must prepare to handle as much of the incident as possible until help can arrive.

As CERT responders in your local neighborhood or community group, you will be working to address emergency needs for yourself, your family and your neighbors when a disaster happens.  Communication with the City may be limited if 9-1-1 dispatch communications are down or if they are overwhelmed.  One method of alternative emergency communication may be amateur radio (Ham radios).  The City's fire stations are equipped with amateur radio equipment and with the help of NALCO Ham Radio volunteers, may be staffed to receive and transmit messages from community groups to the City's EOC.  This may help the city with assessing needs, coordinating resources and prioritizing response. 

Upcoming Opportunities

Berkeley CERT volunteers are invited to participate in the annual Holiday Food Basket Drive hosted by the Berkeley Firefighters Association and the Berkeley Fire Department at Station 5 (2680 Shattuck Ave) on December 17.  Volunteer work on bagging turkeys, bread, fruits and other goodies begins at 830am and is followed by a hot breakfast before bags are delivered to low income Seniors.  This is a great opportunity to join the community in supporting those in need and also a good opportunity to connect with our Fire Department when we're not calling them out for an emergency.  Hope to see you there!

The City of Berkeley's Community Emergency Supply Program is anticipated to open another round of applications in January 2012.  Look to the Office of Emergency Services website for the opening of the 2012 process.

The 2012 CERT training calendar will open in January.  We are looking forward to a very productive year of training our community to respond to disaster.

Next Meeting

January 19, 2012, 7-9pm, 997 Cedar St.

Happy New Year!

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