Marketing ICS: Leading the Fire Safety Revolution

As we progress into the 21st century it can no longer be acceptable to incur the losses that continue to plague our country.


On the one hand, the reason this opportunity has emerged deals with the changing nature of our communities, the proliferation of information and the communication mechanisms, which make it more readily available. On the other hand, marketing has been associated with prevention and safety education since these programs began. This kind of marketing is called "social marketing" because it is aimed at changing behavior.

We now have the chance to modify behavior at the household level thanks to modern technology. Once we have a picture of each community's key threats, we will then need the people to deliver the education one block and household at a time. It is possible and we can do it. Our citizens' lives depend on it. Our firefighters' lives depend on it!

One small sign that there may be a shift in thinking. Firehouse.com featured two front page stories on prevention within the same week. The first article, about the view of the Swedish Fire Service was the most e-mailed article for the week when it appeared. The second article, Virginia, Oklahoma Fire Officials Push 'Village 'Model explained a model that is the exact one successfully executed in the UK, specifically by the Merseyside Fire Brigade headed by Chief Tony McGuirk. The model focuses on the local fire station as an integral part of the community relationship to manage the fire and community "guardianship" by customizing the approach to each local neighborhood in their jurisdiction.

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Ben May, a Firehouse.Com and Firehouse Magazine contributing editor, has been developing the discipline of fire and emergency services marketing management for the past 15 years. He has been a firefighter for Montgomery County, MD, Fire and Rescue and fire commissioner for the Woodinville, WA, Fire and Life Safety District.

May holds a bachelor's degree in public affairs from the University of Oklahoma and a master's degree in international communication from the American University in Washington, D.C. He has been a vice president of two international marketing firms over the last 25 years, and now is responsible for business development for Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort.

He is a member of the National Society of Executive Fire Officers, the Society of Fire Protection Engineers, The Institution of Fire Engineers, the Florida Fire Chiefs Association and the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes.