02/28/13 665 W, 1 I - + 5 - 5 IAFC Report: Taking Responsibility for a Positive Public Perception

Fire service marketing. Reputation management. Damage control. Sitting around and playing checkers. You understand the last two, don't you?

Thanks to social and regular media, the activities, conduct, and composition of the fire service is perhaps more publicly visible than its ever been. Cameras, comments, opinions, and news coverage are actually or potentially everywhere. And all of which affect the public perception of the fire service. And the success of fire and rescue departments, in turn, depends upon positive public perception.

That's the issue that an International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) task force has addressed in a new report Taking Responsibility for a Positive Public Perception (PDF). Reports firehouse.com in a story this week,  "The positive image of the fire service is something we can't take for granted anymore," IAFC Hank Clemmensen said in a prepared statement. "The truth is, the only ones who can ensure we continue to enjoy a positive public perception is us." 

But so what, you say? They'll still be calling 911 when there's a fire or emergency. Correct, but the services you provide are often governed and entirely funded by people other than yourselves. Key quote from the report:

"The increasing public scrutiny of our budgets, operations and behavior has led to growing number of negative perceptions that is slowly tarnishing our image. The good news is we have the ability to turn the tide before it’s too late.

"If we are to be successful in maintaining a positive public image—which enables us to secure the public’s trust—we must reflect honestly, talk openly, work collaboratively, act professionally and take responsibility."

That's the intention of the forty-one page report, both presenting a study of image issues in the fire service and offering suggestions on addressing them. There's gobs of great material here. The ten appendixes in particular include:

The sample questions are particularly nifty. How informatively and with positive attitude and attention can you answer such questions as:

Read the report (PDF).

Digest, discuss, and develop yourself and your department to the needs of the day.


Related errata, to be updated as things occur to me:

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