10 minutes

My fire department has been trying for years to get a second station built.  Between funding and politics, it just hasn’t happened.  The Town is again studying the issue, with a committee slated to report back this fall.

In support of the committee’s efforts, another firefighter and I have been asked to muster our vast Social Media Skillz to educate the public and help sell the idea.  Step one was to mount a camera in one of the engines and show the public how far it really is from our one poorly-placed station to the edges of our district.  After a few false starts and equipment problems, we finally have something to show.

 

All of the video footage is from an actual response.  The audio dispatch was recreated using a slightly different address for the sake of privacy.  Comments and suggestions are welcome, as I’m sure this is only the beginning.

8 comments

    • mack505

      Yes, the ambulance is under contract. Keep in mind that response times are no different for fire calls, though. The ambulance can be heard signing on scene around 5:45 in the video, which is approximately 8 minutes after dispatch.

      The ambulance comes from a different location, so sometimes we beat them to other locations.

  1. mack505

    Yes, the ambulance is under contract. Keep in mind that response times are no different for fire calls, though. The ambulance can be heard signing on scene around 5:45 in the video, which is approximately 8 minutes after dispatch.

    The ambulance comes from a different location, so sometimes we beat them to other locations.

  2. FrankC

    Ambulance and police got there before you.
    I think you’d do better comparing your fire response against a video of just how fast a fire can devastate a house.

    • mack505

      I agree, and I’m looking for the right video to do just that.  Until then, I have to use the video we have.

  3. Jared Alexander

    Great video! I truly hope it works to your advantage. I have some suggestions that may help your cause, please take them as positives, NOT negatives.

    If possible, re-shoot the video with a ‘faster’ camera; I suggest something like the GoPro HD, set to 720p at 60 frames/second. This will give a smoother, more even video. It will also remove the viewer’s impression that the fire truck is ‘hauling ass’. I know you weren’t driving extremely fast in this video, but to the uneducated layperson, it will seem that way. That’s the last thing you need to deal with, is people turning against you because they perceive your driving as being “too fast” or reckless. The key is the frame rate, 60fps, which creates the smooth video.

    Don’t say, “We’re coming as fast as we can”, because again it gives the impression that you might be driving too fast, or unsafe. Instead, emphasize that you can’t drive too fast, and you must get there safely.

    I agree with some of the other comments, you could include statistics in the video. CPR, brain death in 6 minutes. “How long can you hold your breath??” “The average house fire DOUBLES in size every minute”, stat’s about how far it is to the hospital, how long it will take to get a critical patient care, how much of their golden hour is being taken up just waiting for your Engine to arrive… Fill that video with information to support your cause!

    Maybe you can point out some safety issues: Pull to the RIGHT and STOP for emergency vehicles. Keep your radio down so you can hear oncoming sirens. If you’re not sure where the emergency vehicle is coming from as you wait at an intersection, don’t move your vehicle until they pass you.

    If you DO re-shoot the video, USE your siren more. Get people’s attention! Use the HORN more. It’s an EMERGENCY, so make it seem like one! Plus, the more people in the community hear the siren, especially for long runs like this, the more they will think about it… if they never hear you, they don’t think about you, and they’re not likely to be sympathetic, especially in these tough financial times. Make them realize you’re there, running calls. Let them HEAR the siren for a long time, so they have a sense of how long it’s taking you to get to the call!

    Good luck, I hope you’re successful!

    Stay Safe,
    Jared

    • mack505

      Thanks, Jared.  The frame rate is a function of the older equipment I’m using.  The camera is capable of high frame rate HD, but the processor in the old laptop can’t handle it.  Higher frame rates end up being jerky because the buffers overload.

      I’m not too worried about the perceived speed issue.  In fact, I was more worried people would accuse us of deliberately going slowly to make a point.  The sirens and horns are a function of the traffic level; the camera is still set up and looking for good footage during mid-day.  This call was just after sunrise and as you can see there was no one in the way.

      I’m looking for some good footage of a growing fire to use in a split screen with some response video, but I don’t have it yet.  I’m digging through the archives at the firehouse.

      Due to certain local politics, I have to be very careful of the types of statistics used.  We were once accused of threatening a local official.  We told him that, “It’s a volunteer FD.  If your house catches fire, we don’t know who will show up.”  That’s a true fact, but he played it in the media as “they threatened to let my house burn down.”  It left us very sensitive of the messages we deliberately send and any possible negative interpretations of them.

      Thanks very much for your input.  Hopefully I will have enough useful footage for an improved version soon.

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