Comprehensive Fire Service Marketing Opportunities Through Customer-Centered Prevention

The issue of prevention is probably the single most important emerging opportunity for any department to gain visibility among the citizens, institutions and businesses it protects.

So, how we see ourselves is one of the key issues with which we must deal when we grapple with prevention and education. It is the excitement factor. We must look beyond suppression as a necessary function of last resort and see ourselves in a milt-dimensional manner, delivering a wide array of services and knowledge to help our citizens protect themselves with us as the activator and guide. This means we must understand how to instill the proactive, mission-centered mentality to prevention and education so that we are serving the need of our citizen customers for safety. Thanks to the proliferation of information, the increased interest in personal and national safety among the aging baby boomers and all of society since 9/11, we have a real opportunity to fulfill our mission while increasing or marketing support. Here is a challenge: read your department's mission statement. I will bet you in 95-percent of the cases, the words prevention and education are in the first or second sentence. It is time to give them the priority they deserve as stated in the departmental mission. Their effective marketing can result in a quantum leap for our awareness and image in our communities, while fulfilling our primary mission.

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. You can e-mail Ben at