Institutionalising a Volunteer First Responder Service in Armenia (VolFiRe)
The VolFiRe programme will contribute to increasing the preparedness for response to disasters by establishing a Volunteer First Responder service in the 10 regions of Armenia thus strengthening resilience in Armenia in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Output 1: A conceptual framework for Volunteer Fire Rescue Groups in Armenia is developed (VFRG regulations developed and adopted, training package for VFRGs developed and ready to use);
Output 2: The Volunteer Fire Rescue Group model is an integral part of the civil protection system (12 cooperation agreements signed between Armenian Red Cross Society (ARCS), Ministry of Emergency Situations (MES) and regional administrations, 1 roadmap developed for rolling out VFRG model, 20% of Armenian population reached by visibility campaign);
Output 3: Volunteer Fire Rescue Groups are established, operational and well supported countrywide (12 VFR stations refurbished, 420 volunteers recruited, 100 VFRG response operations per year);
Output 4: The local Volunteer Fire Rescue Groups are deployable for regional and national disaster response (1 feasibility assessment on VFRG deployments outside of municipalities conducted,
1 procedure for cross-regional VFRG deployments adopted);
Output 5: Enhanced integration of gender equality and disability inclusion in the Volunteer Fire Rescue Groups of Armenia (25% female volunteers in VFRGs, PWD targeted in volunteer recruitment).
The programme will be implemented in a consortium by the Austrian Red Cross and Caritas Austria together with the local partners Armenian Red Cross Society and Armenia Caritas. The activities will benefit 115,174 direct beneficiaries and 3 Mio. indirect beneficiaries. The programme will be implemented in following locations: Talin (Aragatsotn), Vedi (Ararat), Baghramyan (Armavir), Artanish (Gegharkunik), Garni (Kotayk), Akhtala (Lori), Spitak (Lori), Artik (Shirak), Shikahogh (Syunik), Ptghavan (Tavush), Areni (Vayots Dzor), Zaritap (Vayots Dzor)
1.1 Developing a functional structure for VFRGs in Armenia, 1.2 Developing comprehensive training package, 1.3 Developing VFRG standard set of equipment and establishing supply channels, 1.4 Developing a standard equipment plan for VFRG fire trucks, 1.5 Developing standard specifications for adapting VFR stations, 1.6 Developing an alert tool for VFRGs, 1.7 Developing, printing and making IEC materials for VFRGs, 2.1 Developing and signing a cooperation agreement, 2.2 Developing a road map for rolling out the VFRG model, 2.3 Promoting the VFRG model with national authorities, 2.4 Running active communication and visibility campaign on the Armenian VFRG model, 3.1 Confirming municipalities and negotiating cooperation agreements, 3.2 Tendering, procuring and distributing VFRG equipment, 3.3 Tendering and awarding contract for fire truck refurbishment, 3.4 Establishing an ARCS mentoring team, 3.5 Developing network of regional MES trainers, 3.6 Establishing VFRGs and VFR stations, 3.7 Operating VFRGs and VFR stations, 3.8 Developing activities for local fund and awareness raising, 4.1 Conducting a feasibility assessment, 4.2 Developing a procedure for (cross-)regional deployments of VFRGs, 4.3 Developing a procedure for countrywide deployments of VFRGs, 4.4 Integrating the VFRG model into the DRM National Strategy and the Action Plan, 4.5 Participation of VFRGs in regional/national level simulation exercises, 5.1 Conduct gender and disability analysis of the VFRGs, 5.2 Developing and carrying out training to raise awareness on gender equality and disability inclusion, 5.3 Implementing recommendations to facilitate the inclusion of different groups of volunteers, 5.4 Consulting and collaborating with local organizations supporting disabled people and women, 5.5 Highlighting the empowerment and inclusion of women, people with disabilities and older people in volunteering, 5.6 Conducting a final overall project review with a focus on gender and disability.
The Civil Protection system in Armenia is currently mainly based on professional responders from governmental institutions. They are to a large extent on-duty firefighters and other paid staff of the Ministry of Emergency Situations (MES). The national budget for Civil Protection is limited. The combination of these two factors, a costly system based on paid staff only and limited governmental funding, means that the Ministry of Emergency Situations has limited capacities for responding to local emergencies and even less, to large disasters on the whole territory of Armenia. By further developing and rolling out the model of community-based Volunteer Fire Rescue Groups piloted in the StrengthVOL project, the VolFiRe programme will provide a solution for this dilemma. StrengthVOL was funded by DG ECHO and ADC and was implemented in Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine from 2020-22. In Armenia, four Volunteer Fire Rescue Groups have been established and piloted in Garni (Kotayk region), Mets Parni (Lori region), Khachik and Zaritap (Vayots Dzor region) municipalities. The Volunteer Fire Rescue Groups will be rolled out within VolFiRe to 12 municipalities in 10 regions.