Starting a Disaster Relief Program

The Spring 2016 issue of the FOP Journal discussed the FOP’s disaster relief initiatives. If your lodge wants to prepare its own resources to lend a hand in a crisis, here are a few tips to help you get started.

Outfitting a disaster relief trailer isn’t cheap. Aside from buying the trailer itself (a 17-foot box trailer costs between $2,000 and $5,000 on eBay), your lodge will need a variety of tools, supplies and equipment at the ready. Most of the items can be stored in the trailer, but other accommodations may need to be arranged if you live in a climate with severe weather changes. All told, the initial investment may run between $50,000 and $60,000.

Here’s a sample list of items any solid disaster relief trailer should have, according to a disaster preparedness seminar taught at the 2015 National FOP Conference in Pittsburgh:

  • 10’ x 10’ canopy
  • 6’ folding table
  • Four folding chairs
  • Large cooler
  • Box of trash bags
  • GPS
  • Grill and propane tank
  • Cooking utensils
  • Rakes and shovels
  • All-weather work gloves
  • CERT bags
  • Hand tools, tape measures, hammers, etc.
  • Plastic sheeting rolls
  • Small generator for charging phones, radios and tools
  • Power strip and heavy-duty exterior extension/power cord
  • Orange spray paint to paint street names and mark houses
  • First aid kit
  • 20 cases of water
  • Plastic cups and eating utensils
  • Oil and gas for chainsaws and generators, along with gas cans

You may not need all of that equipment if your lodge decides to operate a kitchen- or food-based disaster relief trailer, but you will need to set aside additional money for buying food. In most cases, you won’t know exactly how long you’ll be needed at each event, and you’ll be relying on rough estimates for the numbers of meals you’ll be turning out daily. Buying food in bulk from a big-box retailer as close to the incident location as possible will avoid storage and spoilage issues.

For more information about how the FOP responds when disaster strikes, check out “Answering the Call.”

Leave a Reply