Since creating "Where's the Fire?", our interactive fire education experience in collaboration with Liberty Mutual at Epcot, we have been fortunate to see many fire service organizations holding their meetings at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Last March, I had the honor of meeting Randy Bruegman during a Commission on Fire Accreditation (CFAI) board members conference at Walt Disney World Resort. Those of you who read this column in Firehouse Magazine know how much I believe in the good work and effectiveness of the CFAI. Every time I write about CFAI and measuring the success of a fire department's effectiveness, I usually receive well over 100 e-mails. I asked Randy to answer some key questions relating to marketing through his successful efforts with his own department in Fresno, CA. My purpose was to understand how one of the top chiefs in the country views marketing's application to the fire service, and especially to his department.
About Randy Bruegman
Chief Randy R. Bruegman began his fire service career as a volunteer firefighter in Nebraska. He was hired by Ft. Collins, CA, in 1979 as a firefighter and rose through the ranks as engineer, inspector, lieutenant, captain, and then battalion chief. He continued on to serve as fire chief for the City of Campbell, CA; the Village of Hoffman Estates, IL and the Clackamas County, OR, Fire District No. 1. Since September 2003, he has been the chief of the Fresno, CA, Fire Department. In additiona, he has served as president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs and currently serves as president of the Board of Trustees for the CFAI. He holds member status with the Institute of Fire Engineers and is a Chief Fire Officer Designate. He holds an associate's degree in fire science, a bachelor's degree in business, and a master's degree in management. He has authored two books and is a contributing author to various fire service publications.Discuss fire service marketing ideas in the Firehouse.com Forums at Public Information & Media Relations .
One of his books, Exceeding Customer Expectations: Quality Concepts for the Fire Service (Prentice Hall/Brady Fire), explains the philosophy and structure behind quality standards that are so necessary for the fire service. It is an excellent introduction to the CFAI process. This book sets the standard for how a department can deal with change as it enhances its services for its citizens' needs. As president of CFAI, Randy is creating a strong organization that is making significant contributions to our nation's fire protection system. In the time I have know him I have found Randy to be on the forefront of progressive leadership. He is consistently striving to lead the fire service to ever higher standards of quality. He never stands still, knowing very well that the market is always a moving target and change is constant. Look for CFAI to exert even stronger leadership for the fire service in the future.
The Fresno Fire Department
Established in 1877, the Fresno Fire Department is one of the oldest fire departments in the United States and is rich in both history and tradition. Over the last 20 years, the department has had to do more with less. In 1980, with a population of 180,000 and a service area of 80 square miles, the department had over 300 firefighters. Today the department serves a population of 450,000 people that covers over 104 square miles with approximately 284 permanent positions: 10 chief officers; 263 sworn, safety firefighters; nine sworn, non-safety inspectors; and 24 non-sworn, professional, and support personnel. Non-sworn personnel have been integrated into the management structure of the department.
The Fresno Fire Department is a full-service department responding to more than 30,000 incidents annually. The department's mission is "to protect and serve, and to put service above all else." The fire department has received national recognition for its innovative and progressive approach to alternate methods of providing municipal fire protection, such as a municipal fire sprinkler ordinance. The department successfully completed a major station relocation program and serves the city from 16 strategically located fire stations.