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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.

 

http://www.kktv.com/news/headlines/Family_Finds_Note_Left_By_Firefi...

 

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.

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Comment by William L.Tanks on July 13, 2012 at 2:37pm

Chief Norwood,

I was just excited to see you making a post. Thanks again for your help with MAFFC this year. Attitude!Attitude! Attitude! On every call, present the best attitude you can. We had a crew return to family's house with Thanksgiving dinner after the family lost their stove and meal to a small kitchen fire. You can never go wrong doing right! It takes true character to be nice to people who may just be in a bad mood because of their mis-fortune.Professional conduct with a positive attitude will position you to go that extra mile. We all should walk worthy of this honorable prefession.

Comment by Jonah Smith on July 13, 2012 at 10:54am
PJ,
Great post here, I am firm believer in what you are saying. Bruno once equated it to his wife being happy to pay $100 for an oil change because they washed her car for free afterwards. He is so correct, citizens remember the firefighter bringing their laptop out or their photo album out after the fire is wrapping up. You can make or break the department's reputation with little gestures like that.

I think showing the truck and engaging children any time you can goes a long way. We got kudos from a citizen last shift for simply waving and flashing the lights for a child. Additionally, a little bit of salvage, despite being one of the most thankless jobs on the fire ground, is the most important for a positive interaction with the public.
Comment by Christopher Huston on July 12, 2012 at 2:00pm

Address them as Ma'am, Sir and say please, thank you while looking at them in the eye. Oh WIPE YOUR FEET before walking into their home!

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