Hi Guys, This is an article I ran in our county fire service newspaper a few years ago. I have some strong feelings about how we are misrepresented by our own sometimes and Im taking advantage of this opportunity to promote them. What's your take?

On Public Image

So, I'm driving along the five lane “strip” that runs through my village when I see a vehicle with a blue light. "A Ha" says I "A noble volunteer. An honorable public servant." When I catch up at a traffic light I notice one of those red stickers of a little nasty brat with a brush cut. It sports a sinister snarl and, at the end of his fully extended arm is a fully extended middle finger. Why me? I'm a 41 year friend of the fire service. Why would a fellow firefighter flick me off in public without even knowing I'm there? What if I had been a young mother with a car load of kids? Why would he send them that message? Why would anyone want to tell the world "Hey, this blue light tells you I'm a volunteer firefighter hero and, by the way, F--- you!" ?.
I was wrong. This is not a noble volunteer or an honorable public servant. This is just some unfortunate little person who has traded our years of hard earned good public relations for whatever immediate gratification he may have had from his misguided moment of cuteness.
Some of these little brats are in fire helmets and hold a charged line of their own creation that splatters into a puddle marked "YOU". Isn't that just a phenomenally clever message? Then there is the one where the same little brat in a fire helmet is standing over an inscription of that great old classic: "We have bigger hoses." Perhaps these stickers will help us recruit more people who want to be associated with such cool ideas. Are these the messages we want to be remembered by? After third grade, they have certainly lost their shock appeal. They are vulgar at best. How does the public we serve deserve these anonymous insults? They don’t. Neither does the fire service that is sincere about promoting good public relations.
Do you dare suggest that, because it’s a personal vehicle, it is none of my business? When you put a blue (or red) light on that personal vehicle you have identified yourself as one of us and you must take the responsibility that goes with that representation. When you posted an insult to the public and to the fire service on that same vehicle, you still represented us. It is my fire service and that makes it very much my business. It is also the business of every rookie who just fulfilled a dream by joining this traditionally honorable service. It is the business of every one in your department and in every fire department everywhere. We strive to maintain high standards in all we do. How do our own people get away with such crap.
Perhaps, and most importantly, it is the business of the chief. He is the one empowered to require you to choose between the insult you posted on your vehicle and the blue light that he alone can authorize you to have. One of them must go. Get rid of that little brat and make us all proud. Thanks. We need all the good responsible help we can get.

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I couldn't agree more.
I have to agree with you Padre Pete, some people just don't see the BIG picture when it comes to public relations. Public relations is everything in the fire department, without it, you wouldn't have a department. Some people just don't think before doing.
Oldy, Thanks for the response. Now if we can get this across to "Youngman" we will be on track.
Padre excellent post. In California we have these little red n yellow California State Fire Association stickers. Kinda like the IAFF helmet stickers. Nothing drives me more crazy then when I see a guy going about 95 flying past me with that sticker and a bunch of others on the back of his/her truck heading to the "river" with his boat! Then ya get to the river and his boat (that has a matching sticker) has beer cans all around it, load music and loader people....HATE that!
Stickers on the truck, shirts on their backs and when they are around none firefighter friends they brag about how they "saved the day" on the last call. Every time a person with a firefighter license plate, t-shirt, or sticker goes anywhere they are being looked at as a firefighter. Buy your beer wearing a firefighter shirt, we are all drunks. Go to a strip club in a firefighter shirt, we are all womanizers. Get a speeding ticket in a vehicle with a firefighter sticker, we all drive to fast. I could go on but whats the point you get the idea. People need to realize that they are representatives of the fire service, not just firefighters.
I agree with you Lt. This is not a 9 to 5 job like anyone else. We are in the public eye 24/7. My motto is dont do anything you dont want your grandmother to find out about. Keeps you out of alot of trouble.

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