How to Develop a Fire Department Community Outreach Plan

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One of the best ways a fire department can promote fire prevention and safety is by building a wonderful relationship with its community.

Many fire departments do a great job of community outreach and education, and the result is a special partnership with the schools, the businesses and the neighborhoods they serve every day. And that goes a long way toward increased fire safety awareness and preparedness.

If you don’t already have a community education/outreach plan in place, October’s Fire Safety Month is the perfect time to get the ball rolling.

Whether you’re considering a plan, or simply looking for ways to improve the one you have, take a look at some of our tips on how to promote fire safety education and solidify strong working relationships with your neighborhoods.

USFA 5-Step Process

The United States Fire Association (USFA) offers a detailed PDF that provides tips on how to get started and maintain a public fire education plan. This plan helps you identify and execute all aspects of a solid outreach/educational program.

While we strongly encourage you to check out the detailed plan, here’s an overview:

  1. Community Analysis: In this planning phase, take a detailed look at your community and analyze data. By developing a community profile, you will prioritize issues and be able to target “areas and populations.”
  2. Develop Partnerships: Find community partners and form a planning team.
  3. Strategize: Use your data and partners to begin pinpointing where you can intervene and how you will be able to evaluate your strategy.
  4. Implement the Plan: You’ve done your strategizing and planning, now get going. Come up with responsibilities, timetables and activities, and monitor progress.
  5. Evaluate: How are you doing? Collect and compare data and decide if things are working, need tweaked, or if you need to go back to the drawing board.

Social Media for Fire Departments

What is your online presence like? Nonexistent or strong? The truth is many fire departments enhance their community profiles with fantastic websites and social media platforms.

A strong website is a great way to maintain transparency and educate your community. Whether it’s through blogging, e-books, a calendar of events, pictures, videos, podcasts, etc., you’ll be able to effectively show off who you are while providing sharp, educational information.

Social media platforms are effective tools for fire departments when used properly. By consistently updating your community with news, photos, educational materials and what’s happening on a regular basis, you build and solidify relationships within your community.

Having a strong presence in your community not only humanizes your fire department, but it also goes a long way in promoting fire prevention and awareness. For some great examples of how other fire departments are doing this, simply log on to Twitter and Facebook and search around. Many fire departments are using these tools to promote their community efforts. Check them out and adopt some of their successful methods now, find out what works and what doesn’t, and improve your efforts as you go.

The key is simply to get a plan in place and get started today.

Rawhide Fire Hose is committed to community education and awareness. Find out more about us today.

About The Author: Keith Eriksen

Keith has been the president of Rawhide Fire Hose for nearly 20 years. He is a member of the Wooster Township Fire Department and serves with the Wayne County Underwater Search and Rescue unit. He has extensive knowledge of valves and hydraulics from years of experience in the oil and natural gas production business.In addition to being an avid scuba diver with master diver endorsements he is also an instrument rated private pilot, certified for high performance and complex aircraft.He enjoys landscape and gardening work, gourmet cooking, spending time with his (grown) children and traveling with his wife, Vicki.

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