Some fire departments spend the week visiting schools and citizen groups, while other stay in and welcome tour groups. I’d like to think a nice blending of the two, maybe spread over the entire month, can hit a number of interested groups.
If you typically have few requests, build up your contacts; the interest is usually there, and a reminder of your willingness to help may be all that’s needed. Make sure your staff is aware of how to handle calls for requests during this busy period.
How about reaching out to the media to gain awareness for those people you may not visit? Television, cable, newspapers and social media can all help us spread important messages about fire safety.
Instead of trying to tackle it all, split up your contacts among staff members and let them help you. You may discover some already have contacts or have a certain knack for this type of activity.
Are you planning a large open house? Too often, fire departments see only small numbers of visitors and grow discouraged about the low attendance, but communities really respond well when the word gets out about such events. Have flyers sent home with elementary-school students; contact your school superintendent about how best to do this.
At your open house, try to involve all of your audience. While kids enjoy putting on a clean set of fire gear and shooting the fire hose, make sure they’re getting a chance to practice Stop, Drop and Roll and crawling low under smoke. Some may need some enticing, but stickers and pencils may do the trick, along with an enthusiastic firefighter to help them.
Demonstrations are informative and can include landing a medical helicopter, a kitchen-fire demo, vehicle extrications and live burns in enclosed rooms that show fire growth.
Get started with a group of people you can count on to help you take on this challenge; there’s much to be done. Good luck!