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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Bureau of Emergency Management

Readiness. Response. Recovery.

Phone: 503-823-4375

Fax: 503-823-3903

TDD: 503-823-3947

Frequently asked questions about the BEECN Volunteer Code of Conduct


Q1 – What is the purpose of the Code of Conduct?

 The purpose of the Code of Conduct is to build trust, accountability and professionalism to the BEECN program by establishing ground rules for behavior. The Portland Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM ) Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET) has a similar code of conduct for volunteers.

Q2 – Do I have to sign the Code of Conduct?

 All current BEECN volunteers will be asked to show their interest and commitment to the BEECN program – this will entail signing the Code of Conduct, passing a background check (no cost to you) and completing the BEECN training. All BEECN participants who complete these steps will be issued a BEECN ID card. This requirement will ensure PBEM knows the actual number of committed BEECN members who are willing to deploy as a team to support the City of Portland during emergencies and planned events. In turn this allows PBEM to efficiently invest resources towards the BEECN program.

Q3 – What if I don't sign the Code of Conduct?

You will not be issued a BEECN credentialed ID card and will not be on our roster of active BEECN members.

Q4 – Does the Code of Conduct prevent me from giving presentations or conducting outreach on the BEECN program?

BEECN members are encouraged to give informal presentations and provide general information about the BEECN program. However, if you are representing yourself as a BEECN volunteer at an official function – such as a Fix-it-Fair – we would like to know in advance so that we can promote and document these efforts. This information is especially helpful to us when we get asked questions about public outreach. The Code of Conduct attempts to curb unauthorized lobbying on behalf of the BEECN program. That is because the City has specific rules about lobbying that apply to elected officials, employees and volunteers, including BEECN volunteers:

Q5 – The Code of Conduct requires prior authorization on the use of the BEECN name, services, etc. for the purpose of obtaining a benefit or advantage for any person or organization, including the BEECN program. What do the terms "benefit or advantage" mean?

The terms are intended to mean financial benefit or other gain / advantage such as preferential treatment.

Q6 – What about crowbars, pry bars and machetes?

These items will be helpful after an emergency event. Are these banned? The Code of Conduct makes specific reference to "weapon" as an item intended to cause injury or damage. While a pry bar or crowbar could be used as a weapon, we define these items as tools. The inclusion of language permitting locked or fixed blade knives less than six inches acknowledges that many people regularly carry utility knives.

Q7 – What about firearms?

I have a concealed carry permit. Is pepper spray considered a weapon? Firearms are not allowed at any BEECN activity – even if your possession of them is not unlawful. Similar to machetes and chainsaws, firearms are outside the scope of BEECN training. Yes, pepper spray is considered a weapon.

Q8 – Does the Code of Conduct prohibit me from talking to the media?

The Code of Conduct does not prohibit you from talking to the media. The Code of Conduct requires you to confer with and obtain PBEM’s consent prior to making statements on behalf of the BEECN program. When BEECN members represent themselves in their official capacity they are acting as volunteer representatives of the City and PBEM. We therefore have a compelling need to know when BEECN volunteers are representing themselves in their official capacity and what comments they are making on behalf of the program.

Q9 – What about a large-scale emergency that takes down communications systems – would BEECN volunteers be prohibited from self-deploying even if PBEM is unable to officially activate BEECN volunteers?

The decision to deploy following a disaster is a volunteer’s own, and a volunteer may never be coerced into deploying. A volunteer who chooses not to deploy will not be subject to any consequences related to his or her standing in the BEECN program. During the course of any deployment or exercise, BEECN volunteers must ensure that all chosen actions conform to the following guiding principles:

a. Safety is always the top priority.

b. Use the buddy system and always work in pairs. It takes at least two volunteers to relay radio traffic to/from the fire station.

c. If you see something unsafe, say so. Everyone has permission to say, “That does not seem safe” or “I do not feel safe.”

d. If someone points out an unsafe condition, stop and correct it right away.

Q10 – Who has access to the information from the background checks?

After you complete the background check forms, they will be sent directly to the Portland Police Bureau. PBEM does not make copies of the forms or see the information reviewed by PPB. However, if a BEECN volunteer fails his or her background check, the PBEM Bureau Director and BEECN Coordinator will review the documentation and make a final decision as to the individual’s volunteer status. The only information entered into the BEECN volunteer database will be the date the BEECN volunteer passed/failed the background check.

Q11 – Who has access to the BEECN volunteer database?

Only authorized PBEM staff will have access to the BEECN volunteer database. Other City of Portland employees, volunteers and contractors will not have access to the database.