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Putting The Public Back In Public Service

Fire departments nationwide are known for being able to fix almost any problem, respond to calls at all hours of the day, and help others in their times of need but think of how much we do that the community has no idea about. We live in the day of Social media and online advertising. Newspapers are a thing of the past for a majority of us, when we want news or to find information they go straight to the smart phone. Now let’s look at the Fire service and where it can take place in all of this.
I read a photo a few weeks back with a caption that said “the best PR is the community seeing you training” I couldn’t agree more. We put so many hours into training. Whether it’s sharpening an old skill or learning new techniques we take pride in being proficient in our job task. The community needs to see what we do. I’ve never understood how certain crews like to keep the doors shut all day and be shut off from the outside world. Firehouses in my mind and belief should be a place that is open and welcoming during the day. Keep the doors open, be out training so the public can see you, allow local kids to come by and hang out, be a role model for the so many who desperately need them. We serve the community, they allow us to have the best job in the world with their tax money yet when you hear guys complaining about pay and benefits they fail to realize just where it’s coming from. How can we expect the public to support pay raises when they are not really sure what we do. A majority of the public sees the fire service as a bunch of guys who sleep all day and get cats out of tress and we can’t really blame them for thinking that.Even to the educated public we put fires out and that’s it. Few know about the EMS skills,technical rescues skills, Fire prevention, community programs and other functions and in this day and age that is no ones fault but our own. Social media can be a good thing when used properly.

You and your crew are on the training ground, pulling lines,flowing water, setting up low angle rescues lines or out at the river doing swift water. We do all these things day in and day out but shut the public out. I am a big sports fan so I love to use examples when i can, with this particular topic I think of teams that have open practices before the season starts. The coach and team do this to allow the public to see what to expect this coming year and to boost ticket sales once the fans see the team will be competitive this upcoming year. So lets think back to those training's mentioned. Each time the tones drop that is our "game time" when we are expected to be all trained up and ready to win each time. Those training scenarios are the public's chance to take a look at what their Fire Departments are doing during the "off season". Too often we hear guys around the station talking about how the city council or the taxpayers just don't understand what we go through and do, so this is our golden opportunity to give them a first hand look.

Growing up I remember stopping in every fire station I could. Dad would take me in where we were met by guys who would take the time to show me around, let me sit in the trucks, slide down the poles and most of the time I would leave with a patch. One thing I also remember is how it always seemed like the Doors were always open no matter where and when we happened to stop. I believe this is something that needs to continue to happen. The public should look at our stations as a place to always be welcome. Stop in for questions, tours or just to see whats going on. We are a public service not a top-secret service. Lets give the local kids a place to hang out, find positive role models that are so hard to find these days. The younger generation is the future of not only the fire service but the community as well. If we continue to grow our bond with the public we will build a stronger working relationship and have people who really know what we go through and do. In return this will put more people on our side when it comes time to ask for the community and city's support in new equipment and manpower. Stay Hungry for knowledge. Stay motivated. Stay Positive and most of all Stay Transparent. At the end of the day we are here for one reason and one reason only, and that is "THEM"

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