Let Pub Ed save you some money

You own an oil company. Your drilling crews are top-notch. And they have been drilling and drilling… every shift, their work ethic and skill are unquestionable. But no oil. You upgrade the equipment and add more crews. You increase their training. After several years of drilling every day and getting no oil out of it, you hire someone to assess the situation. Their findings were that the crews are highly skilled, but they weren’t being sent to drill in the right places, and they needed to be drilling 50 ft deeper than what your crews have “always done”.

Imagine if you had arranged that assessment a lot sooner. Not only would you have saved the company from wasting a lot of time & money, but your drilling crew would have been more successful much sooner, too.

Public Education can be like that drilling crew… if they are looking for solutions in the wrong places, not using data-based strategies or perhaps their methodologies fall into the “way we’ve always done it” category.

GOOD NEWS: Pub Ed can be a solution to some budgetary problems (in addition to all the obvious benefits of Pub Ed, like saving lives).

Fire Chiefs: be the hero at budget time

I know that you’re not all that interested, especially during a pandemic, in spending money on an audit. But what if I told you… that effective Pub Ed can SAVE your FD money, and that an audit is actually an investment with a potentially great ROI?

(Effective) Public Education is one of few divisions that can save a fire department money:

  • Fires with fatalities/injuries require considerably more resources vs fires without a fatality
  • Fewer/non-rescue fires take less toll on the (physical & mental) health and safety of your firefighters and investigators
  • Fewer/smaller fires reduce the amount of water usage and apparatus/equipment depreciation
  • Fewer non-fire incidents mean less wear & tear on both capital assets and human resources – especially where volunteer firefighters are involved, as fewer non-fire incidents reduce the risk of burnout & staff turnover
  • Reducing deaths, injuries and incidents tells your Council and community that your efforts are effective (which may open up funding avenues like partnerships, sponsorships or budget wiggle room)
  • Solid Pub Ed can boost your recruitment and retention results, reduce burnout & turnover and provide more rounded future leaders in your succession plan

All of the above can happen only with effective Public Education.

It’s a waste if it’s not effective

Drilling for oil, fighting a fire or educating the audience… a waste of money if it doesn’t work, right? But seeing oil shoot up from the ground or the wet, blackened debris of an extinguished fire are easily concluded as effective efforts; whereas public education effectiveness is not as obvious.

This is where a Pub Ed Audit comes in. TB Ignite’s ability to provide a thorough, objective assessment of the programming, messaging, channels, activities, benchmarking, resources & more, is often something that often can’t be accomplished in-house. It has to be completely objective and it’s highly time consuming. Most fire departments don’t have the resources (or, in some cases, the expertise) to do a proper in-house Pub Ed audit.

Continuing to pay for staff and resources to conduct public education that isn’t yielding the results you need, (such as fewer/less severe incidents, eliminating deaths/injuries or reducing those pesky medicals) is like buying an aerial without a ladder and wondering why you never seem to be able to reach the third storey.

If that seems like a silly analogy, it is. Just like not properly investing in and assessing your FD’s public education is equally silly.

But we did a Master Plan

Master and Strategic Plans are excellent investments and pretty much standard now for the industry. While these plans delve into hyper detail about suppression, training, apparatus/equipment and capital assets like stations… most plans do not go into nearly enough detail when it comes to Public Education. The best plans I’ve read, have indicated (strongly) the need for public education, some even pointing out overlooked/underserved demographics. But of the hundreds I have read, none have gone nearly deep enough, nor worded recommendations strongly enough, when it came to the first line of defence.

Many fire departments invest in audits in other areas, such as:
  • ISO and legislative compliance
  • Health & safety
  • Mental Health
  • Finance, purchasing & inventory
  • Buildings & facilities
  • Apparatus, equipment & maintenance
  • Administrative services, data and records management
  • Incident & response
  • Organizational efficiencies (e.g. LEAN)
A Pub Ed Audit answers questions like:
  • Have we identified the actual problem(s)?
  • Are we targeting our efforts in the right direction?
  • Are our programs and messaging effective?
  • Are we utilizing beneficial partnerships?
  • Is our Pub Ed working in terms of results?
  • Are we set up to implement effective Pub Ed?
  • Have we used Pub Ed to benefit other areas, such as PR and recruitment?
  • Are we getting the best return on our Pub Ed investment; if not, how do we get there?
  • Are your programs/messaging accessible?

A Pub Ed Audit (and Pub Ed itself) is not an expense; it is an investment. As a first class fire department, both the audit and your Pub Ed should provide a good return on that investment.

fireman standing near fire on building
Photo by Tobias Rehbein on Pexels.com

Don’t fret, unions

Fires will always happen. It’s human nature to do stupid things, therefore response times and proper suppression staffing will always be a legitimate concern. Plus, effective Pub Ed helps keep your firefighters healthier, longer.

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