I am going to take a little from Chief Alan Brunacini and what he has preached for years. Chief Brunacini has defined and shaped the fire service of today through his focus on customer service.
There is not anyone reading this that enjoys when a taxpayer says in the many way they do how they pay our salaries. However, in all honesty they really do pay our salaries and we as public service employees must be there for them and help them through the worst moment of their life. Right then and there, to them there is nothing more important than the “crisis” they are dealing with. They look to us to solve their problem regardless how minor we think it is.
I saw the following media story and immediately thought of Chief Brunacini. I am sure if he read that article a smile would came across his face. Take a look at this article from Colorado before proceeding.
As firefighters are duty is to serve those in need. We are the only public service agency that does not tell our customers "we can't do that" or "sorry we are the fire department, you have to call police or public works department". We handle each and every call regardless of how bazaar or out of the ordinary it is.
These firefighters in Colorado did the fire service on a whole a good deed. A small simple task that would in many times of commotion easily over looked. No family would ever expect the firefighters to do what they did. But, they did and they made every firefighter across the country look good.
In today's social media age we as the fire service receive what I call black marks on an all too often frequency. These black marks occur for many reasons and sometimes are not deserved. We all need to remember each and every day that the court of public opinion is how we get these black marks. Public perception has ruined many agencies and individuals! I like to refer to the “news paper test”. As a firefighter or officer ask yourself this question as you are performing or speaking. “How will this look on the front page of the paper on every kitchen table in your community tomorrow morning?” If you are not 100% confident that it would make you and your crew look good then you should stop doing what you are.
We must also remember it’s the little things that sometimes are overlooked that make the biggest impact on our customers. Recently while walking a young couple through their apartment after a devastating fire they were overcome with emotion at the devastation. However they were quickly overcome with gratitude. During the operations the firefighters took all the photos from throughout their apartment and placed in a secure area and covered with a table cloth to protect from water. At that point they cared less about their belongings that they lost and they did lose almost everything. Now, is that a standard practice in your department? I would assume it is.
This is a little thing that makes the difference to our customers. Removing the dead bird and providing food and water for the other chickens still in the coop is a little thing. But, those are the things that matter! Those are the things that create public support of your department. With the many departments that are suffering station closures, reduced staffing, layoffs and even moving their firefighters to minimum wage we must build as much community support for our departments. Without that support you and your department may be the next front page article where the tax payers vote to close a firehouse down or lay you off.
When our customers call 911 they want to hang up look out the window or down the street and see a fire truck coming. They don’t care what color the truck is all they care about is you help them through their crisis. Providing that assistance is normally relatively easy for us. If we then take a few minutes to do the little things we have now created a friend of the department that may pay off with big dividends in the future.
What have you done that was a little thing for someone you served? Post your “little things” below and help other understand what some of those little things really are.