Every year Firefighters across the nation respond to millions of 911 calls. Many involve a death, the destruction of personal property, or other damage to the fabric of our communities. We witness people who are suddenly faced with tests to the very limits of their bravery and endurance, sometimes heroically and sometimes tragically. Over the years, Firefighters have been subjected to physical and emotional distress in the course of their service, but we continue to respond in a professional way and support our side of society’s safety net.
In every fire department in the United States the mission of Firefighters continues to grow and evolve as society creates more demands on an ever growing 911 system. The word ‘Firefighter’ includes many more skills that did not exist too long ago. EMS and para-medicine dominate the call volume with pre-hospital care responsibility given to Firefighters as First Responders. Structure Fires, Heavy Rescue, Hazmat, Swift Water Rescue, Urban Search and Rescue (USAR), Arson Investigation, Fire Prevention are a few other skills that Oakland Firefighters have training and equipment for to respond to as well on 911 calls. Too many of those calls involve the tragic loss of human life. The memories that all Firefighters share deal with very intense emergencies and what they have to do to resolve them. They are memories that don’t go away.
Because everyday firefighting brings us up close with the lives of people who truly need a hand to get by, we believed we could make a positive difference in other ways besides our emergency response work. In August of 2000, a group of Oakland Firefighters came up with an idea to help their fellow Firefighters give something extra back to the communities they serve, live in, and care for. They created a central location that Firefighters could utilize to submit a request for help when they encounter someone in need in the Community or after a 911 Emergency call. The program would enable them to go back to a family or individual in need after a 911 call and make a positive difference with just a visit, or a refrigerator, a wheelchair, a toy or computer for a child, or whatever they felt would bring some help and some healing for everyone involved – for that person or family, and for themselves.
A 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt, charitable organization called “Oakland Firefighters Random Acts” was created. Our Board of Directors is made up of diverse Firefighters of many ranks and titles serving as equal partners, and civilians and professionals all serving on a purely voluntary basis without pay. We aim to fulfill our mission statement “Creating a positive difference in the lives of individuals through Random Acts of Kindness.” Our motto, “No Egos, Badges or Resumes” means simply that. The program is for everyone in our department, and all we want is a commitment from the heart – not a reflection of ego, status or ambition.
Supported by IAFF Local 55, the Oakland Fire Department, Oakland Black Firefighters Association, and the City of Oakland, ‘Random Acts’ became a stand-alone corporation. With the passage of an Oakland City Council resolution, Oakland Firefighters are given permission to do Random Acts of Kindness in uniform on duty with the use of available OFD engines and trucks for that purpose. We have long passed one thousand “random acts” and counting as we continue to touch the lives of the citizens we serve while benefiting from the healing memories they provide. Our position of trust and our badges open the doors for Oakland Firefighters who, with the help of the Random Acts program, can continue to make a positive difference in the lives of individuals through Random Acts of Kindness.
Oakland Firefighters Random Acts is a 501(c) 3 non-profit, tax-exempt charitable organization. Federal Tax ID No. 94-3387723