Los Angeles Fire Department Community Emergency Response Training (CERT)

Stacy Gerlich

Stacy was recognized as a White House Champion of Change in Community Resilience and Preparedness. 

Nearly 27 years ago, the Los Angeles (City) Fire Department (LAFD) introduced the first-ever public sector disaster preparedness training for citizen volunteers--Community Emergency Response Training (CERT). Americans have witnessed a plethora of large-scale disasters and the events of September 11, 2001 underscored the need to have trained citizen volunteers. The mission of CERT is to support citizen volunteers in becoming trained volunteers by providing “individualized” organization and leadership resilience training along with learned self-sufficiency following a community-wide disaster. The CERT program expanded across the Los Angeles area and is now one of the largest National City CERT programs with over 60,000 trained volunteers. To continue its perceived success, the LAFD CERT program has defined its new mission; to train ten percent (10%) of the population of Los Angeles (est. 400,000) within the next three years. This endeavor will include the collaboration between the LAFD and Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in assisting the City’s Emergency Management Department (EMD) in the City of Los Angeles’ mission to achieve ‘Whole Community’ Preparedness/Readiness.

CERT training provides individuals with knowledge, skills, and abilities to assist first responders in the aftermath of disasters. The main concept of CERT is to strengthen individual communities and neighborhoods as well as increase resiliency to include an all-hazards approach. Although this program has become internationally known, there is more we can do to assist with response and recovery efforts that need to occur following catastrophic events that continue to plaque our nation.

The following websites offer information on how to start a CERT program, maintain an existing program, literature to assist in educating our citizenry, and training videos that describe and illustrate the importance of CERT training.

Captain Stacy Gerlich has been involved in CERT since 1990. She served as the LAFD CERT commander from 2006-2013 and is now assigned to the Homeland Security Sections Critical Planning and Training Unit. 

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