USFA: Marketing At the National Level

Question: As the primary fire safety office of the U.S. government, does the U.S. Fire Administration use and emphasize marketing to fulfill its role? Answer: U.S. Fire Administrator Dave Paulison is providing significant guidance in his...


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Bourne: Currently, our target markets are the age group 14 years old and below, the age group 65 years old and above, and firefighters. Our stakeholders include hundreds or fire and emergency services organizations, industry, state and local governments, other federal agencies and the media.

Firehouse: How is USFA's marketing role translated into support for the fire and emergency medical services?

Bourne: In the past two years, aggressive USFA marketing of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program and the Needs Assessment for the Fire Services that we conducted with NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) have had a positive impact on the services and has brought results. There is a heightened awareness of the needs of the fire services and the role states and local government plays in providing supportive funding. Sept. 11, of course, had arguably the greatest impact on public opinion and it is our job to work with the fire and EMS services to translate that into long term support.

Firehouse: Is there a marketing role for USFA in support of the Department of Homeland Security?

Bourne: We have a significant responsibility to support the department and the national homeland security effort. As the national focus for fire department related issues and a significant role in fire department based EMS operations, we assist the department as a whole in understanding and responding to a large segment of the first responder community. Our marketing responsibility specifically lies with informing the nations fire departments about what resources and information is available to them to help build our homeland security.

Firehouse: What is USFA's role at the community level? Specifically, what has been the success of the civilian volunteer initiatives recently implemented?

Bourne: Fire departments, of course, have the most significant role at the community level. Our role is to provide national level resources to help them in their efforts, not to supplant their efforts. The Citizen Corps initiative of President Bush is a striking example of a way to harness the vast potential of American citizens to undertake efforts to protect their communities and to respond to tragedy when it strikes. We are honored to be a significant part of that effort with the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program. This program developed by the Los Angeles Fire Department almost 20 years ago and adopted by FEMA in 1993 is the best way to harness that civilian volunteer energy and provide concrete training and organization to help people get ready for emergencies and to respond to them. We are working closely to tie these efforts to local fire departments and other emergency management and emergency responders to form a corps of folks who can help fire departments out when tragedy hits.

Firehouse: What measurement system, if any, does USFA use to measure its marketing success?

Bourne: We are looking to develop several measurement systems to assess our success. We ultimately will use NFIRS (National Fire Incident Reporting System) to see if we are having an impact of fire loss. We will also be looking at measuring how the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program is impacting the overall preparedness of our fire departments. This will be done through studies, surveys, empirical data where available and market research.

Firehouse: What kind of resources, in terms of dollars and people, does USFA have to create and implement marketing strategies?

Bourne: We currently have one person on staff dedicated solely to marketing USFA programs. However, as part of FEMA's Preparedness Division, we are building additional marketing support with two additional staff people and we also are leveraging our marketing support with the FEMA and DHS Offices of Public Affairs. This is a quantum leap ahead of where we were just a few short years ago. Our marketing funds are not budgeted separately, but are developed out of program dollars to promote awareness campaigns. We are looking in future years to be able to develop specific marketing budgets that can be allocated as needed to address the overall marketing strategy.

Firehouse: Can you give some examples of those recent programs, which can show some results and measurements?