media relations class
does anyone have any information on a class they have held for the media to show them what we do and in turn let the media show them what they need from us on the scene to build better working relationships. I would like to invite media personnel to the fire training grounds do live burns with them in our turn out gear and let them see what it feels like to wear that and fight fire and then have a graduation service for them and give them reflective vest with Media on it to wear on scenes. any input would be appreciated if someoen has tried something like this before. post here or feel fre to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Well, if you are from a department with an IAFF local, then just ask the your local about Fire Ops 101.
Here is a piece of their blurb from http://www.iaff.org:
Fire Ops 101 (FO-101) offers IAFF locals a unique opportunity to orient select audiences to the hazards associated with fire fighting, emergency medical response and other emergency duties.
An FO-101 event typically begins around 8AM with logistical items. Attendees then proceed through a series of stations, usually four or five, where they experience first-hand some of the key tasks associated with fire control, rescue and patient care.
FO-101 is a great way to educate elected and community leaders about what we do.* To make it as easy as possible for you to consider FO-101 for your community, you will find posted here the information and documents to help you make your event safe and successful.
You may also look into contacting the Local in Phoenix, AZ. They have a 'Certified Fire Journalist' program.
Though its been awhile, over the years, we've done some morning or afternoon training seminars with sizeable groups of media. We usually start and end with good food (maybe the most critical element?) as well as before-and-after group photos. In the four hours in-between, we cycle them through a very brief lecture, a few handouts, and lots of hands-on simulating the many roles of a Firefighter/EMT.
Unlike some more comprehensive programs, such as the Phoenix Fire Department's popular "Certified Fire Journalist" program (see below), we do not infer ours to be an in-depth academy or certification. Rather, we offer it as a friendly familiarization that will stress scene safety, fundamental operations and PIO/Media logistics - hopefully sparking the journalist's personal interest to learn and do more in regards to the Fire Service in general and our Department in particular. At the conclusion of the seminar, we often make arrangements for individual ride-alongs and more detailed/structured contact among the few who take up our offer.
We probably could do a longer or more detailed training, but we've been darn lucky to get journalists to respond for four hours, even when we have chosen night or weekend alternatives. Again, our emphasis is to hit the high points while leaving opportunity for more personal contact specific to their professional needs. Our Department is adamant that "the media is not a monolith". I guess you could characterize our efforts as a *very* simple foundation upon which we build in different directions that are individually meaningful and relevant to our media colleagues. To balance our offerings, gain insight and share a sense of understanding, we also seek to place our staff in media ride-alongs and visits in the weeks that follow.
I find it important to mention that we reeeeeeeeeeeally go out of our way to remind seminar attendees that this is a fun and informative training session and not a "story" to be covered. Allowing them to remain in their role as reporter or be accompanied by their own camera can have a deeply deleterious effect upon the dynamics of the day. As such, we strive to have a single pool still and video photog under our control to capture the keepsake moments, and provide the video or stills only to the participants to do with as they please. Therefore, if the pool video or stills make it to air or in a publication, its not our responsibility for any less than flattering pose by these often image conscious journalists. :)
Among the many hands-on "stations" they will experience is a pan fire/dry chem station. No interior firefighting or flashover simulator time is currently offered for our local media seminars. From the comments received, it seems to offer enough of an impact given the speed and focus of our sessions.
Our Union Local has sponsored or participated in sending local elected leaders and luminaries to the IAFF's Fire Ops 101 class, which has been very well received. See Page 3 of this PDF document labeled "Friends are where you find them", to read about the exploits of two of our local elected leaders at Fire Ops 101:
For more information on the Phoenix Fire Departments's Certified Fire Journalist program:
I'd politely suggest that your efforts seek to offer simple yet meaningful rewards to both your agency and the journalists. Taking too big a bite of the apple, especially in a revolving-door media market, can quickly drain your enthusiasm and budget, as you strive for stasis.
I sadly don't have anything formal to offer you in the way of an outline. It does however, seem likely that they very comprehensive Phoenix program linked above could spark some ideas as to what may work for your agency.
Fraternally Yours in Safety and Service,
Public Information Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department