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July 20, 2004 > Personal Emergency Preparedness (PEP)

Personal Emergency Preparedness (PEP)

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Since 1995 the Fremont Fire Department has been working with trained community volunteers to get residents prepared for earthquakes and other disasters through the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training. CERT is an 18 hour training that is based on the curriculum set by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). However in the ensuing years, the department found that even though they had about 3,000 people trained to help in disasters - a small number compared to the size of the population - not many came forward for the drills and to help prepare their neighborhoods for disasters.

This could have happened for a couple of reasons, one being that trained residents moved out of the area and the second that people were taking the in-depth training to prepare themselves and their families but were not interested in being part of a team to help their neighborhoods. Also the number of people taking the full training dropped considerably because they did not have time to commit to 18 hours. After September 11, 2001 the number of people interested in the CERT training increased briefly before again dropping sharply. Residents were interested in preparing themselves for disasters but again did not seem to have the time to invest in the CERT training.

Due to these reasons and the fact that FEMA revamped their curriculum to include terrorism as one of its components making CERT a 20 hour course, Fire Department Officials decided to break the Preparedness Program into two different programs; a 3 hour Personal Emergency Preparedness (PEP) and the 20 hour CERT program. With this new schedule, the fire department hopes to get the majority of its population personally prepared for disasters and reduce the number of casualties during a major disaster. Residents going through the PEP training can then decide whether they want to continue and go through the 20 hour CERT program.

The 3 hour PEP training is also based on the FEMA curriculum. Volunteers who are trained CERT instructors will teach the skills and preparation steps that residents need to know to take care of themselves and their families in a disaster situation. The curriculum covers information about earthquakes and disasters, utility shutoff, hazardous materials, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and shelter-in-place. Residents will learn how to strap water heaters and big objects in their homes, how to minimize flying objects during an earthquake by securing small artifacts and placing things in a manner to reduce injuries. People will be trained to view the rooms in their homes and in places they visit with "Earthquake Eyes". They will learn where their utility shut offs are located, how and when to shut them off, how to detect whether there is a gas leak or not.

Information about fire extinguishers and their use will be given and also information about hazardous materials and their safe placement and disposal will be taught. Installing and maintaining smoke detectors will also be covered. The concept of shelter-in-place will also be taught. Shelter-in-place which means to stay indoors -- in homes, schools, businesses, or public buildings -- includes additional precautions such as turning off air conditioners and ventilation systems and closing all windows and doors. It can be used when there is little time to react to an incident (often chemical or biological) and it would be more dangerous to be outside trying to evacuate than it would be to stay indoors.

FEMA has a wonderful guide titled, Are You Ready? A Guide to Citizen Preparedness, which will go hand-in-hand with the PEP training. This free guide is available from FEMA or can downloaded from the FEMA website -
Copies are also available through the FEMA Publications warehouse (1.800.480.2520), FEMA publication H-34.

The Fremont Fire Department will be conducting its next PEP Classes on Tuesday, August 17th & Thursday, October 14th from 7:00 to 9:30 PM at "CERT Central".
"CERT Central" is located in Building A of the Fremont City Offices on Liberty Street. It is in the same building as the City Council Chambers. The entrance is from the back of the building directly from the parking lot. Pre-Registration is required. For more information or to register please call (510) 494-4243 or (510) 494-4285.

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