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This is the Fire Department… why are we worried about customer service?

You walk into a restaurant and encounter a rude, unprofessional employee who gets your order wrong, and you immediately get frustrated.  Or, you go to a hospital to find an extra long wait time followed by medical staff who treat you like you the days biggest burden.  We have all faced those at least one of those two situations and were not happy about it.

Let’s look at a few statistics.  Americans tell an average of 15 people about a poor service experience, versus the 11 people they’ll tell about a pleasant experience.  After just one negative experience, 51% of customers will never do business with that company again.  U.S. companies lose more than $62 billion annually due to poor customer service.  84% of customers report that their expectations had not been exceeded in their last interaction with customer service.

So what’s makes the fire service better?  How do you think the public feels when they are having the worst day of their life and to make matters worse a crew shows up to greet them with attitude?  It blows my mind how we have guys in the fire service who huff and puff when the bell rings.

They get on scene and treat the citizens like they are a burden, mad that their sleep or recliner time was interrupted.  You hear guys all the time tired of making calls, tired of going to the same house for the medical call over and over.  Tired of being “burdened.”

My opinion? Suck it up.

If you can’t find a way to do that, then I say: find a new career.

We work in customer service whether we want to admit it or not. We serve THEM, the same people who allow us to have the job we do.  How dare we treat them with anything but the highest level of respect and professionalism. I don’t care if it’s helping the little old lady back to bed, putting in a car seat, working that OD, or putting it all on the line to conduct a VES in a structure fire.  No matter how big or small the call is we are obligated to go all out. If that bothers you then again, I invite you to find another career.

Too many of us look at this as a calling and not just a job. Too many of us put in the extra time to train even if we front the money ourselves. Too many of us are honored to help carry on the traditions of the fire service.

Now, I’m not stupid. I know we are human and have bad days, but a very important trait of a true professional is being able to set personal feelings aside when it’s time for business. Many peoples only experience with the fire department could be the day you wear your emotions on your sleeve.  People talk, and when they spread the word on how they called 911 and all they got was a bitter, rude a******; how do you think that will help us? If you want the support of your community and those around you, step up and be an example. Go above and beyond to serve those in your community. Make your station open and welcome to anyone. When you see the kid out, invite him over! Be a positive role model in a day of so many terrible role models.

Let’s set the standard for customer service.  Mark VonAppen from Fully Involved nailed it and made a pretty simple way to remind us of what we are obligated to do.

Treat people right,

Have an all-in attitude,

Give all-out effort and, mainly,


If those four things are too much for you to do each and every shift, then it’s time to find a new career. There are too many people out there in line for this job.  We shouldn’t settle for anything less.

You hit the lottery when you got the job; now it’s up to you to earn it each and every day. Remember once you get that starting position, you are a target for others who want that spot. You have to outwork those who are chasing you. Put in the extra effort, even when you don’t really want to.

It’s not your job to judge whether or not they should have called 911. It’s not your job to judge their emergency. It’s not your job to give them attitude. It IS your job though to deliver exceptional service. It IS your job to carry on the price and honor of this great job.  So like I’ve said many times before, stop the BS. Drop the attitude and get out in the community and make a difference.

We are only blessed with so many years of the job, so make every single shift count.

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