Office of Crisis Surge Support Staff

Firehouse Democracy and Governance Officer supporting election monitoring in Haiti
Firehouse Democracy and Governance Officer supporting election monitoring in Haiti

The USAID Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance (DCHA), Office of Crisis Surge Support Staff (CS3) prepares and rapidly mobilizes highly experienced surge staff to USAID missions on a temporary basis. Known as the Firehouse, CS3 is currently staffed with approximately 50 U.S. Personal Services Contractors (USPSCs) with critical development skill sets available to support essential USAID Mission operations at a moment’s notice. The Firehouse includes:

  • Senior Development Advisors
  • Contracting and Agreement Officers
  • Executive Officers
  • Democracy and Governance Officers
  • General Development Officers
  • Health Officers
  • Program Officers
  • Strategic Communications Officers

The Firehouse

CS3 Firehouse members represent a broad range of international development expertise and are familiar with USAID processes and mechanisms. Firehouse members are available to USAID Missions upon request to support management of field staff, provide technical expertise, temporarily fill newly created positions, or fill vital vacant positions. The Firehouse’s wide array of technical skills ensures that CS3’s response to Mission requests is effective and fully integrated.

All members of the Firehouse are intermittent USPSCs activated only when needed. The majority of Firehouse members are retired international development experts at the GS-14 or GS-15 equivalent with 10 to 40 years of USAID and other international development experience. CS3 prepares Firehouse staff so they are “deployment-ready” ensuring they have active:

  • Worldwide medical clearances
  • Secret security clearances
  • USAID badges and emails
  • Government travel cards
  • Diplomatic passports
  • Required trainings
  • Remote tokens
  • Medevac insurance

Firehouse members are U.S. Citizens and government employees who can perform most inherently governmental functions, including having warrants and being Contract/Agreement Officer's Representative (COR/AOR) certified. They can provide management and oversight, represent the government, participate in budget exercises, participate in personnel actions, and handle classified information. They can serve as Mission Directors, Deputy Mission Directors, Office Directors, Team Leads, and Activity Managers. As highly experienced development experts, Firehouse members also act as mentors to Mission staff.

If you are interested in joining the Firehouse, see Jobs with CS3's Firehouse.

History of Our Work

CS3 was formerly known as the Office of Civilian Response (OCR), which oversaw the USAID component of the interagency Civilian Response Corps (CRC), established in October 2008. Following the dissolution of the CRC in 2012, CS3 built upon its OCR experience to meet the demand for temporary senior-level USAID Mission staff support when faced with a crisis or urgent programming needs that mainstream USAID staffing methods cannot fully address.

Mission Support

Since 2013, the Firehouse has deployed to more than 50 countries in support of USAID Missions worldwide. In Fiscal Year 2016, CS3 received 141 formal deployment requests for Mission support. The Firehouse responded to 65 deployment requests, deploying to 36 different Missions.

DCHA/CS3 Flow Chart

Recent examples of Firehouse deployments to support Mission staffing include:

  • Expanding conflict mitigation efforts in preparation for national elections in Kenya
  • Developing stabilization programs in Somalia and Yemen
  • Implementing and expanding of Power Africa in South Africa
  • Supporting Liberia's education portfolio in response to the Ebola outbreak
  • Programming community stabilization projects in border states in Mexico
  • Planning elections, citizen security, and education projects in Nicaragua
  • Managing the impact of Syrian refugees on Jordanian communities
  • Monitoring elections and project design assistance to WASH projects in Haiti

CS3 supports USAID Mission operations and the programming of foreign assistance by relieving Mission staff, Washington offices, and individual USPSCs the time and expense of managing intermittent assignments through:

  • Deployment Coordination: CS3 receives and reviews deployment requests for Mission support, coordinates Firehouse member responses to deployment requests, processes deployment funding actions and contract modifications, provides ongoing operational support during deployments, monitors Firehouse member performance, and provides deployment updates to respective Washington offices.
  • Contract Management: CS3 manages Firehouse human resource requirements, manages all USPSC contracting actions from solicitation to closeout, coordinates medical clearance processing, and monitors contract budgets and payments.
  • Travel Arrangement: CS3 manages Firehouse travel arrangements, processes passports and visas, coordinates country clearances and security verifications, and assists Firehouse members with travel vouchering and other travel related issues.
  • Administrative Assistance: CS3 provides time reporting and payroll support, coordinates security clearance processing, provides an escort for badging and Washington consultations, manages Firehouse training and certifications, and handles mailing, administrative forms, reimbursements and check-out procedures.

Through these actions, CS3 and the Firehouse support USAID Missions by providing the experienced staff necessary to advance Mission’s development objectives and USAID’s mission to end extreme poverty and promote civil society.

For additional information about CS3 or to request Firehouse support, email