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Fire News in Focus
by Adam K. Thiel

'Gangnam Style': Gaudy or chic?

It's certainly not your father's way of raising fire-safety awareness, but does such parody video work and does it cross the line of good taste?

By Adam K. Thiel

Editor's note: Chief Adam K. Thiel takes a serious look at a lighter side of firefighting and asks where fire departments need to draw the line when looking for creative means to get their message to the public, yet remain professional. 

Perhaps not surprisingly, given the rapid rise in popularity of PSY's "Gangnam Style" song/video (yes, I watched it before this edition hit the FireRescue1 website), the South Baldwin Volunteer Fire Company's version has inspired a lot of views and a lot of comments.

It's also not a surprise that readers have different perspectives on whether or not the concept and execution are appropriate for the fire and emergency services.

If you check out YouTube, preferably from a non-government-owned/operated computer, you'll quickly notice a couple things: believe it or not, there are people who don't like the original video; and everybody from U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen to both U.S. Presidential candidates have been, uh, "featured" (or parodied) in "Gangnam Style."

So, I think people get the joke.

Moreover, we're probably not going to get our fire-prevention (or fundraising, in some cases) messages through to all of our target audiences with elevator music, coloring books and fire photos. Not everyone is fascinated by "big fire, big water.

But doing it "Gangnam Style?" How many people, within and beyond Pennsylvania, benefited from watching this video?

At the same time, we are constantly reminded that we are held to higher standards than members of the general public and most other governmental organizations.

What's the answer?

It probably depends on your department, community and membership norms. In my department, this would likely cause a problem.

Is there a way to have fun, be creative, deliver our messages and still be viewed as "professional" and "appropriate?"

I don't know, but it's probably not easy.

What do you think?

Stay safe!

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About the author

With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel FireRescue1's editorial advisor 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.

The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
Alfred James Cooper Sr. Alfred James Cooper Sr. Sunday, December 30, 2012 6:08:53 PM COOL GIG BRO'S.
Mary Devine Roberts Mary Devine Roberts Sunday, December 30, 2012 7:08:34 PM Good job love it!
William Leflet William Leflet Monday, December 31, 2012 11:43:45 AM very good

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