The Internet and the Fire Service

The number of fire service websites had grown from less than 100 in 1995, to over 30,000 this year.

An entirely new frontier (and will follow-up with another article) for public safety is that of the online social networking. Websites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Linked-In, Plaxo, Skype and FirefigherNation which are designed to link people of similar personal or business communities.

According to Internet World Stats, in 2009 an estimated 1.4 billion people access the internet for information in one form or another. Contrasting that to 1999 when launched, there were an estimated 248 million worldwide users.

In summary, there is very little that you cannot find on the internet and if you cannot find it today, stay tuned as someone is probably working on that very idea. Reflecting on the past and looking forward to the future, I am confident that will continue to evolve and remain the leading emergency service website in the world.

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CHARLES WERNER, a Contributing Editor, is a 34-year-veteran of the career and volunteer fire service and serves as chief of the Charlottesville, VA, Fire Department. Charles serves on Virginia's Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee, the International Association of Fire Chief's Communications Committee (IAFC), the Digital Problem Working Group Chair and the IAFC Technology Advisory Council Chair. He also serves as the SAFECOM Executive Committee Chair and the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council Governing Board. He has received a number of awards, including Fire Chief Magazine's National Career Fire Chief of the Year, the Richard DeMello Award by the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council and is the only three time recipient of the Virginia Governor's Award for Fire Service Excellence. To read Charles' complete biography and view his archived articles, click here. You can reach Charles by e-mail at