Firehouse

JAN 2017

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• Of the low costs of installing a sprinkler system in your home • How a sprinkler system works, how safe they are compared to other plumbing, and that if one head activates they all do not activate like they do in movies • Of the contrast in water damages between a sprinkler head and a fire hose, or sprin- kler system water damage and fire damage Jane is also a taxpayer and thus has more power to affect policy and laws than any lobbyist. How? Because Jane has a loud voice, is influential within her per- sonal and professional circles, and can vote. But Jane has not lent her voice to the fight for better fire service staffing or for the inclusion of sprinkler systems in South Carolina building codes because she has not been educated about her fire service and the battles we fight. She has been uneducated because of the failure of the fire service to reach out and educate her beyond abstract information on social media and websites. In every community, there are hun- dreds of Janes who lack the basic knowl- edge about their fire service and fire protection and who incorrectly assume that all is well simply because they hear sirens and see fires that are successfully extinguished. We assume Jane knows all there is to know about our profession and the challenges we face because she loves and respects firefighters for the job we do. However, there is an obvious infor- mational divide between the fire service and Jane. It's time to rebuild the bridge. Until the Janes—who control the polit- ical careers of lawmakers—start picking up the phone and calling their represen- tatives and letting their voice be heard at voting booths and at town hall meetings, the fire service will continue to struggle for funding and support. Lives will continue to be put at risk to include the firefight- ers who are dying in buildings that lack sprinkler systems. But Jane cannot be educated if our firefighters are not educated, and our fire- fighters cannot educate Jane if there is no effort to get out of the stations and into the community. Public education and rela- tions needs to be as much of a strategy and tactic as advancing an attack line, because everything we do starts with community support and funding. Not only does a solid education/relations program educate the taxpayers as to the challenges we face and needs we have, but it also reduces the risk we are exposed to. I challenge each of you to walk through your stations and ask your fire- fighters simple questions: What is the leading cause of fire? How many fires did your department respond to last year? How many gpms does a single sprinkler head produce? How much does it cost to install a sprinkler system? What is significant about Scottsdale, AZ? What are NFPA 1710 and 1720, and what do they say? As they provide answers to these pro- fessionally important questions, consider that these firefighters will come in contact with hundreds of Jane Q. Publics in their personal and professional lives in 2017. Now think about your department's pre- vious failed public initiatives and budget requests, and ask yourself honestly, where does the blame really lie? In sum It's time for change. Make prevention and public relations part of your department's strategy and tactics for 2017, and educate the Jane Q. Publics of your community, so your department will have the support and tools it needs to save lives. People don't know what they don't know, so this year get out there and educate them. n For More Prevention & Investigation firehouse.com/prevention-investigation Jane cannot be educated if our firefighters are not educated, and our firefighters cannot educate Jane if there is no effort to get out of the stations and into the community. FH1701S Request information at Firehouse.com e-inquiry January 2017 l Firehouse l 63

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