Fire Department branding and image management is not something that most fire service agencies have given much consideration until now. News and social media coverage of police activities and situations has put a spotlight on firefighters and other first responders like never before. The impact hits the overall perception of public service.

It is important that fire, EMS and other public safety agencies recognize they are a brand and in many ways a business. We are already aware of well-known fire service brands like FDNY, Chicago Fire, LAFD, etc. It seems strange, since fire departments, EMS and other public safety agencies are a not for-profit business, but it’s time to think more about your brand and how it is perceived.

When someone sees a firefighter, EMS, police officer or other first responders they often already have a perception or feelings toward them. If you ask most people, they’re more than happy to share their feelings good, bad or indifferent.

Fire departments, EMS and other public safety agencies must realize that their brand already exists. Your agency has the ability to change or impact the perception of your brand. Turn-around can come quickly for some departments and slow & steady for others but “Yes you can!” “Sí se puede!”

The implementation of serious fire service, EMS and public safety brand and image management starts at the top with a solid commitment to take more control of how your agency is portrayed.

Try to look at your department from a business perspective in the same way that trusted brands as Amazon, McDonald’s, Google, Apple and Disney would do. Your agency’s brand, reputation & image can benefit tremendously from the business world and how they brand themselves. At every level you should strive to build respect, trust and loyalty with the people that you and your fire department serve.

Fire Department Community Relations & Engagement can only succeed when your department has a clear focus on solidifying existing relationships as well as rebuilding and re-branding. The goal is to create new connections, relationships and partnerships that are mutually beneficial.

Everyone within your agency needs some understanding, training and tools that will truly help reaffirm, and rebuild relationships within the community. Investment and commitment in these areas benefits everyone involved.

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