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Fire News in Focus
by Adam K. Thiel

What's the value of your department's brand?

Departments are often sought for endorsements because of the esteem we are held in by our communities

By Adam K. Thiel

I definitely have to chalk the story on PETA's original proposal in the "say what?" category.

Obviously, the bigger issue here is that many fire departments are experiencing severe difficulty maintaining basic service levels during the continued economic recession.

In this type of fiscal environment, there's a lot of pressure to innovate and develop new revenue streams.

From billing for traditionally free services, to cellular towers on fire station property, and even selling advertising space, I'll bet many fire departments are trying new things to make ends meet.

Why? Because as a fire service, we take ownership in what we do, even (especially) when times are tight.

It's also clear that many of these potential revenue sources have implications in the broader public policy realm.

Fire departments are often sought for endorsements because of the trust we are honored with by our communities. That trust is important; and it's worth something.

Now I'm not saying fire departments should or shouldn't, implicitly or explicitly, endorse products or organizations.

It's not that simple, especially when the choice is between revenue and service provision.

The question is: What's the value of your department's brand? Economically speaking, we should be able to assign a price; but it's hard to place a dollar value on trust.

About the author

With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel ó FireRescue1's editorial advisor ó is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.



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