1. #1
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    Question Reasons for having a F.D. website?

    Hi everyone after five years of our fire department website not being updated I brought up at our monthly meeting that I would take it over. I am starting over with a new domain name and new web hosting company. Long story short some of the members actually do not agree, and even question why we need a website. The website will cost us $300.00 per year to host with the company I have choosen. I think I can make most of that back with advertising? What I am looking for is some reasons a website is a good idea to have besides being a tool to the community, advertising our functions / tickets. Give me some positives to having an up to date website. Thank you for your input.

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    You can post quite a bit of information for the community on a website. I have seen things such as fire safety, fire codes, contact info for the appropriate persons (Code enforcment, inspections, billing, etc.). It can also be a place to showcase your department, personnel, equipment, capabilities. We recently used our website to help educate the public on our need for a new station (which passed with over 78% of the vote).

  3. #3
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    An FD website can be a great tool for public relations and public education provided it's kept fresh and up to date.

    Some items of advice:
    • Don't let bells and whistles become more important than content and simplicity
      • Skip the music, overabundance of flashing graphics, and all the other n00b mistakes that cry out "amateur website."
      • Keep it simple and easy to navigate.
    • Don't forget that a website nobody sees is worthless.
      • If you're getting your own domain, put it on your stationary, every ad you run, press releases, and even on your fire apparartus after you have the site substantially completed.
      • Don't underestimate the value of sites like facebook in conjunction with your dedicated site.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

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    We use our website to keep the public updated on calls in the community, news involving our members, vehicle purchases and needs, and other items of interest. We try to keep a balance on making it interesting for members of the public along with members of other fire departments who visit the site.

    When the public is able to "put a face" with the fire department, you become more than just a building with fire trucks in it, you've suddenly become a valuable member of the community.

    As Deputy pointed out, don't disregard setting up a Facebook page in addition to a standard webpage. You can target two different audiences and deliver the same message through two different means.

    In the modern day, no fire department, no matter what the size, should be without a webpage. Just remember to keep it updated!

    (For what it's worth, my VFD was recognized this week on a statewide FD website for our use of our website and Facebook page for keeping both department members and the public aware of our daily happenings).
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  5. #5
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    I wouldn't seek out advertising. I'd find a way to make it cheaper.

    There are many benefits. Recruitment would be a biggie.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

    "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

  6. #6
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    Default Website

    If your FD conducts any type of fundraising (direct appeal letters, grant applications, etc.) the website is a valuable information tool to show your department to the public.

    Whenever someone donates money to an organization, they want to know about the purpose and activities of that organization. They want to know what their donated dollars are going for. Having the website listed on a direct appeal letter, grant application, etc. will give the reciepient an additional source of information about your FD. If you want someone to buy from your business, you advertise your products and services. In this case, you can show what services (fire protection, rescue, EMS, etc.) your FD provides to the community.

    I would encourage you to pursue the FD website. You will always have several members an organization that are against something. If the majority approve of it, go for it.

  7. #7
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    The Possibilities are endless...... Here is what one VFD does with theirs.....

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    The Community Support for this Department is amazing........
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    Maybe try looking for a member of your community who would be more than Happy to build a website for you for free! I offered to put my local FD in the town I used to live in on the web for free, I was even ready to purchase the domain and pay for the web hosting for them! However nowadays it is so easy to find good hosts who offer Technology grants for depts and stuff. And $300 is a bit pricey for 1 year of web hosting, you can find GOOD web hosting for about $5 a month! So shop around and also it doesnt hurt to check within your community to see if someone can build you a website for $0 The less money your department has to spend means more $$$ for other more important things.

  9. #9
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    I bought the domain name for our fire department website - the department pays for renewals and for the webspace for it (it was free for a while - courtesy of a friendly ISP).

    I wrote and still maintain the site. I'm quite familiar with computer programming (from Basic to Cobol and several others) so once I learned the syntax, it was easy. Of course, the site isn't anything elaborate, but we've had 17,000 hits in the past 11 years. Not much by some standards, but still pretty good for a little fire department out in the sticks.

    HTML isn't difficult to write, once you understand the basics. More than a few pages 'out there' have been 'borrowed' from other sites. I'm not suggesting you outright steal content - but sometimes you can work off someone else's concepts and turn them into your own.

    Consider checking in with any local colleges - they may well be able to point you to a student who can whip up a decent site for you. Be sure you maintain control of access to the server, though. Nothing worse than putting up a site and then not being able to update it because your programmer graduated.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

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    Quote Originally Posted by asst2303 View Post
    Hi everyone after five years of our fire department website not being updated I brought up at our monthly meeting that I would take it over. I am starting over with a new domain name and new web hosting company. Long story short some of the members actually do not agree, and even question why we need a website. The website will cost us $300.00 per year to host with the company I have choosen. I think I can make most of that back with advertising? What I am looking for is some reasons a website is a good idea to have besides being a tool to the community, advertising our functions / tickets. Give me some positives to having an up to date website. Thank you for your input.
    Hosting should not cost $300 a year. I have used hosting off of eBay for $1.99/year that has maintained 99% uptime. Seriously - less than two bucks for a year of hosting. And that was with roughly 50,000 unique visits a year. I've done this for multiple sites.

    Even if you want more "legit" hosting, godaddy is less than $50 a year. Why did you choose a company that charges such a ridiculous amount?

  11. #11
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    Our department has never had a web page. The membership leans heavily in to the pre-internet generation side of things and, as such, they don't see a need for a web page.

    Yet many of them sit around and wonder why kids 19 to 25 aren't beating down our door to join the department or why nobody seems to ever know what's going in regards to training etc.

  12. #12
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    there are a lot of good reasons. The most important reason is that it lets the community learn about what you are doing at the firehouse. You can post pictures of training, have a calender of fundraisers. A running total of calls is a good way for the community to understand just exactly the amount you do. Its also a good recruitment tool. Those pictures of your last training burn or vehicle extrication drill will get someone interested. You can also use it as a way to thank people/companys that donated. Having their logo on your page and saying they donated money for whatever will make them feel appreciated.

    a website is a press release anyone can access at anytime of day.

  13. #13
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    $300 a year? Holy crap!! Im fortunate enough to be able to run ours for free minus the annual domain registration (~$12?).

    Check ours @ badenfirerescue.com and see what ideas you come up with.. feel free to post what you've come up with!

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    Let's see... I've been in "charge" of our department's website for less than a year. It was a struggle to get it off the ground to begin with since a former member used yahoo and it got into a big mess. The web design for yahoo wasn't cooperating and the technical support was less than helpful. Suffice to say, we went with another service provider and it has worked out pretty decently. I have a team of four that help post things to it and we are trying to constantly update it so it doesn't get stale.

    We haven't had much success in recruiting with it but at least its out there and it has a long way to go before it becomes a finished product.

    It has helped with the hall rentals though so at least advertising hall rentals helps cover the bills.

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    This has been a question of mine as well. I just recently started the creation of a FB page for our department. If that goes well I will make a web site. But the question was what info goes on the page?

    I was thinking the FB page could be for members only, but that didn't seem like a good idea. Maybe the web page can have a members only area for station information for members only.

  16. #16
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    at my old dept, there was a "Public" webpage that was the community relations area, and it had a members-only login area where menbers could log in and see the schedule, upcoming training events, file reimbursement for training exps, cert updates, etc.

    seemd to work well!

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