A Marketing Strategy For Fire Prevention - Part 1

Question: With so much emphasis and discussion on the many aspects of fire suppression, where is the place of fire prevention and what is the best way to tackle the fire problem, while raising its awareness within the fire service and the public...


To access the remainder of this piece of premium content, you must be registered with Firehouse. Already have an account? Login

Register in seconds by connecting with your preferred Social Network.

OR

Complete the registration form.

Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required

Because of the vision of the fire chief and the support of the city manager and council, his division now has four inspectors, one inspection supervisor, one fire protection engineer, two plans reviewers, one public education specialist, one administrative support person and one fire marshal. The department now has 130 personnel and six stations.

Last fiscal year, Peoria inspected 17,000,000 square feet of commercial properties, conducted 1,987 fire prevention inspections and 2,228 construction inspections, and went from daily complaints to the fire chief and city manager regarding the inspection process to receiving an average customer service rating of 4.75 points out of a possible 5 maximum points (with 1 being poor and 5 being outstanding), made presentations to 180,960 residents and guests, and to top it off measured a 77% reduction in commercial fires and a 60% reduction in residential fires (based on the past seven years' averages) since implementing these changes.

The customer service platform. Before launching into a specific marketing plan, the Community Services Division prepared a customer service platform to define its vision, mission and goals for customers' needs and perceptions. The Marketing ICS column of July 2005 noted that a department could develop a customer service program at any time and from any position in the market before developing a formal marketing plan.

As noted in Peoria's customer service program, "It is not that the developers, business owners and general public do not care about fire safety; it is because they do not understand how vulnerable they are." This just makes sense. If they have not experienced the destruction from a fire first-hand, business owners may tend to view fire codes as unrealistic and inspectors as reactive. In order to gain proactive compliance, then, the Peoria Fire Department makes it the responsibility of all members to promote fire prevention in the community. The three pillars of the division are: respect for the individual, striving for excellence and customer service; always with a goal to delivering best practices.

The vision. "The Peoria Fire Department Community Services Division is dedicated to providing our customers with a standard level of fire safety delivered in a manner that reflects the highest level of customer service. This dedication includes treating our customers with dignity, respect, and courtesy by continually striving to meet their growing needs. We will embrace change without forgetting the lessons of the past, and will inspire trust while providing life safety protection to our community."

The purpose. 'To enhance the level of customer service provided by the Community Services Division of the Peoria Fire Department without compromising the integrity or the intent of the Fire Code."

Who are our customers? Under Howard Munding's leadership, the Community Services Division identified the following customer segments: business owners, the city council, contractors, developers, firefighters, the public and the city staff. Howard then conducted a series of focus groups and customer surveys as well as an operational evaluation of every aspect of fire prevention. As a result, developers, contractors and business owners proactively review and address their safety requirements.

This customer-centered approach has created a perception of the department that it is fair, firm and consistent in all of its interactions with the public. Peoria has identified other critical agencies that make a contribution to the fire department's efforts to deal with fire prevention so that the prevention team can deliver ever-higher levels of quality service to the citizens and businesses of Peoria. These agencies are: the Building Department, Community Development Department, Water Department, Public Works and Engineering, and Police Department. Private-sector fire protection and the water system also contribute to Peoria's efforts for good fire prevention.