There was a time when Fire public relations were assumed and just came with the job. The reality is that everyone in fire service, paramedics, Fire-rescue, EMS, ambulance & dispatch, has a role and responsibility for good public and media relations. If you work in public service or have loved ones and friends serving their communities, you know that sinking feeling and understand the impact that negative incidents locally & nationally have on everyone. Your community is with you most of the time and ready to help at the drop of a hat or helmet. Good Fire Public Relations & community engagement is as easy as helping with a broken bike, finish mowing a lawn or shoveling snow for an overwhelmed senior citizen. A simple act of kindness, brief connection or shared experience can make a huge difference.
Firefighters responded to a fully engulfed house fire that took the lives of a couple and their daughter. “Marc,” a firefighter on-scene was searching for victims when he found the couple’s other daughter Andrea and was able to save her life. The firefighter bonded with the young girl that lost everything she loved in the fire. Marc and his wife stayed in touch with Andrea as she delt with the grief and reality of being an orphan in the foster care system. Andrea was eventually adopted by Marc & his wife.
Our new reality is cell phones, doorbell & dashboard cameras, bodycams, etc. There will always be someone ready to start recording, texting & posting furiously. It is more important than ever for everyone to think about positive fire public relations. Look for the unexpected connections, stories of fire-rescue, public safety officers, and volunteers that are impacting people and their quality of life.
We all know Fire, EMS, public safety, EMT’s and other first responders that are making a difference in their communities and across the country. Some of the best things don’t make the news or social media. It is more important than ever to tell on each other about the good and positive things.
Florida Fire-Rescue Lt. Derek Foss heard about Brianne Baker, an ICU Nurse with a rare kidney disease in need of a kidney. Foss, a veteran firefighter decided to take the blood test to see if he is a match. Lt. Foss was notified that he is a perfect match and didn’t hesitate to make this life changing kidney donation.
News and social media are evolving faster than ever. Every firefighter, dispatcher, EMS or law enforcement officer could have their 15 minutes of fame. No one is safe from the glaring spotlight.
An unfortunate outburst, simple mistake, or viral moment, it could damage your reputation and impact community relations. Your mistake and reaction could be immortalized on Facebook, Twitter, or TikTok.
It’s important to think of good fire & police public relations as if it was a rainy-day fund. You put in a little money at a time and build it up. Hopefully when the heavy rain comes, you’ll have enough to take you through the storm. Fire-community relations depends on the public having trust and respect for the first-responders, police, sheriffs, public safety, fire, and others that are serving them and knowing that they uphold the core values of respect and professionalism.