On the heels of Fire Prevention Week, it’s easy to appreciate the interaction and trust we have within our communities. Fire Prevention Week is a magnificent example of the fire service harnessing tragedy to make positive change.
While pressing issues of the day, such as budget constraints, communication with crews and safety concerns, may take up a considerable amount of our time, effort and energy, it’s important that we never forget that one of our core missions is to engage with and educate the public.
When I speak to community groups in my city, I’ll often ask how many recall firefighters visiting their elementary schools when they were children. It should come as no surprise that nearly every adult remembers our friendly firefighters interacting with them as kids.
They remember the message, the smiles and the feeling that those firefighters cared about their safety. It was often the only formal interaction they ever had with the fire department. That’s why it’s important we make it count.
Some firefighters may shy away from opportunities to engage their communities. It’s imperative for fire-service leaders to embrace these invitations and make this desire contagious.
We’ve become the clearinghouse for many unique and complicated problems: terrorism response, community paramedicine and hazmat response, to name just a few. But we must remember that our old enemy fire isn’t an endangered species.
People die every day because they don’t have sprinklers above their heads, smoke detectors to warn them or the education about how to survive and escape a fire. Don’t neglect our traditional mission and the opportunity to improve your community’s perception of our profession.
Fire Chief Thomas Jenkins
President and Chairman of the Board