How to Speak to Government Officials

Speaking to state or local officials can be intimidating. However, there are multiple instances pertaining to department needs that require frequent contact with these representatives. State and local governments provide departments with the resources necessary to fulfill their missions. Knowing how to present information to government officials is a valuable skill that can greatly benefit a department.

CREATE A RELATIONSHIP: First and foremost, as leadership in a local fire department, a Chief should have open and frequent communication with their local government. While maintaining a relationship with the state government may be a more difficult task, it is still beneficial to have some sort of representation at the state level. Keep in mind, when working with elected officials, it is important to remain neutral to political views and not to openly support any one candidate.

CREATE A PLAN FOR PRESENTATION: Have a presentation ready even if just a few pages. Have concrete backup for any monetary figures being presented, especially if it is a request for more department funding. Make sure department budgets are organized and available to view so that officials and the public can see exactly what is being funded and where requested funds will be utilized.

PRESENTATION: Information and concerns need to be presented in a quick and concise manner. Most members of state and local legislature do not have extensive knowledge of the fire service. Do not use acronyms or abbreviations for lesser known topics and make sure to give background information if necessary to expand on what is being presented. Knowledge is power, and the audience only has as much information as given to them. Stay on topic, speak clearly and calmly and be ready to answer questions. Exhibiting a confident appearance will reassure officials that department leadership is effective and create a sense of trust. Consider bringing a fellow officer along when presenting and allow them to present and answer questions as well.

REMEMBER: State and local governments give departments the tools to succeed. It is a Chief’s responsibility to create a relationship built on trust and confidence not only from the governments but also from membership. Utilize all resources and strive to continually create a stronger and progressive department.

Download our presentation template to create a professional and informative presentation for your next meeting with government officials.

For more information on speaking to government officials and other “How To” guides, please contact vws@iafc.org or visit our site at WhatFuelsYourFire.org.

  • Topics:
    • Leadership
  • Resource Type:
    • Guide/ toolkit/ template
    • Case study
  • Organizational Author:
    • VWS

Related Resources

  • Key Messages and Talking Points for Partners  --  Updated July 27, 2021 Top 5 Things To Know About Covid-19 And Delta Variant. From the CDC website: Information about the characteristics of these variants is rapidly emerging. Scientists are working to learn more about ... read more
  • A defibrillator sends a shock to the heart during ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) with the automated external defibrillator is one of the first response systems for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest cases. The importance of their rapid response ... read more
  • This webinar's focus is on motivating the younger generation. Millennials are smart, energetic and driven when led with techniques that work for them, not just what’s worked for previous generations. This program presents emergency service leaders with the tools to ... read more
You are not logged in.