Fire Safety Organizations and Affiliations with Other Groups Term Paper

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Fire services are on the front lines of community safety, and are occasionally integrated with other community organizations. However, fire service affiliations with other community groups are frequently underutilized. Fire service organizations sometimes fail to form effective alliances with community groups, and vice-versa, leading to breakdowns in communication and diminished delivery of service. Given the relationship value inherent in forming deeper and broader affiliations within the community, fire service organizations and the areas they serve benefit tremendously from relational and institutional embeddedness. Relational and institutional embeddedness refers to the comprehensive coordination of communications and other critical services, not just when responding to disasters. Relationship value is created throughout the processes of disaster prevention.

One of the ways community group affiliation with the fire service creates value is through the process of education, public relations, and public awareness, and how awareness promotes public safety. Affiliated groups need to establish ongoing information sharing programs, which enable two-way dialogue. Fire departments need feedback continually from their affiliated community groups, just as the community groups need also to receive updated information that enhances both relational and institutional embeddedness (Nowell & Steelman, 2015). Public awareness of fire safety, building codes, disaster response, emergency preparedness, and disaster prevention are all facilitated through education. The educational process requires affiliation with community groups including schools, healthcare organizations, community or activity groups, local business, faith based organizations, and particularly the media. As Carter & Rausch (2008) point out, fire service administrators also need to forge creative strategic alliances with local hospitality service industries like hotels, as well as light industry in the area. The key issue with forging these types of alliances is staff training, but information sharing is also a valuable bonus in community embeddeness.

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Staff training is one of the most important reasons why fire service organizations form affiliations with their community counterparts. Fire service administrators might overlook the importance of forming strategic alliances with community groups, such as youth organizations and faith-based organizations. Yet the staff of community groups often presumes that other agencies are going to be more fully integrated with the fire service. Instead of deferring authority, community groups should seize the opportunity to empower themselves and their individual members with information. This can be done in different ways appropriate to the demographic of the group and is role in the community. As Carter & Rausch (2008) suggest, children’s organizations can engage with fire departments through open houses, or less formal field trips whereby the kids “see and touch fire apparatus and equipment,” (p. 103). These hands-on learning demonstrations stimulate interest in, and awareness of, the connectivity between fire departments and all other community service organizations. More importantly, the hands-on experiences open the door to learning opportunities whereby staff in those community groups, and the participants in the groups like children, learn the fundamental features of disaster prevention and disaster response.



When it comes to building strategic alliances with adult community groups, Coleman (2014) claims that fire departments need to start with the basics because as many as 90% of adults surveyed do not understand exactly what fire departments do beyond their obvious role in fighting fires. Given the lack of information, or even outright misinformation, about the fire service, departments need to develop cohesive media relations and communications strategies. Using social media is key to forging some of these alliances with community groups. The content strategy needs to be.....

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References

Almandoz, J., Marquis, C. & Cheely, M. (2017). Drivers of community strength. In The Sage Handbook of Organizational Institutionalism. London: Sage.

Carter, H.R. & Rausch, E. (2008). Management in the Fire Service. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

Coleman, S.M. (2014). Fire department PR. Fire Rescue. May 1, 2014. Retrieved online: http://www.firerescuemagazine.com/articles/print/volume-9/issue-5/command-and-leadership/fire-department-pr.html

Compton, D. (2001). Community involvement, leadership, and influence: A systems approach. Fire Engineering. Retrieved online: http://www.fireengineering.com/articles/print/volume-154/issue-8/features/community-involvement-leadership-and-influence-a-systems-approach.html

Marinucci, R. (n.d.). Working with your local fire department. Retrieved online: https://www.nationalservice.gov/sites/default/files/resource/tads-fire-department.pdf

Nowell, B. & Steelman, T. (2015). Communication under Fire: The Role of Embeddedness in the Emergence and Efficacy of Disaster Response Communication Networks. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 25(3): 929-952.

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