Targeting Firefighters

Building Your Base
One Firefighter at a Time
Why do it
How to do it
Go to it: Ideas & Resources

Targeting Firefighters: Why do it?

In many communities, connections between the library and the local fire department are weak or even non-existent. Interestingly, fire departments and libraries have the same underlying goal - supporting the local community. Working to build a relationship with your local fire company is a worthwhile goal for your library. Here are some reasons for reaching out to your local firefighters:

  • Many firefighters feel unrecognized. Despite the routine risks and sacrifices they make for others, firefighters have shared that their community. Helping them feel recognized, honored, and appreciated can go a long way to forging amicable relations with this group.
  • Some feel competition with the library over funding. Building good relations and helping local firefighters see value in the library can ease these tensions considerably.
  • Many don't see a reason to use the library in today's information age - you need to give them one.
    From borrowing DVD's, viewing Fire Chief and Fire Engineering magazines online, or researching funding opportunities online, local firefighters need to be educated and enticed to interact with the library by showing them specific materials or programs which meet their needs or interests.

How to do it?

Fire safety personnel have shared that the best way to begin a relationship is through personal contact.

Step 1:
Make Contact
If you know someone in the fire company, you can begin networking through them. If you don't know anyone, you can call and ask for the Chief or Assistant Chief. If possible, stop by the fire department and introduce yourself to the Fire Chief or Asst. Fire Chief. You can explain that the library is doing some community outreach and you wanted to see how the library might:

  • support their efforts
  • identify areas for collaboration
  • inform them of new resources they can access conveniently online.

Some tips for making contact:

  • Fire departments have drill and rig check night so you can find out when it is and then stop by.
  • If no one is around, call the 911 Center and ask for the Chief's business number and call either the Fire Chief or Fire Prevention Officer to set up a meeting.

Step 2: Learn About Them & Extend Support
Ask about what is happening at your local fire department and then offer the library as a resource where appropriate.

Here are some resources to get you started:

Step 3: Form a Partnership: Make a Plan to Work Together

The most important step is finding out how to help or interest your local firefighters and then use this as a means for connecting with them. They may also want to use the library as a venue for some of their own activities.

Go to it: Ideas & Resources

"Firefighters are very visual people - the more you can "show" them, the more impact you'll have."
- Dave Walsh, Chairman of the Fire Science Program at Dutchess Community College and instructor at the Academy of Fire Science in Montour Falls, NY.

Following are some strategies for collaborating with your local fire department. They should serve primarily as starting points. The best way to build a meaningful relationship is not tell local firefighters what you are going to do for them, but to first ask them how you might helpful. The process of first asking about their current needs and activities reveals opportunities for collaboration that would likely not have surfaced without your asking.

  • Purchase materials of interest to firefighters for your library
    • Give the local fire department a fire materials catalog and ask them to visit an online bookstore and share with you some books they would like. Invite them to visit the library when the books are in and ready for check out.
      • Resource - NYS Fire Academy Catalog
  • Put information firefighters would like to share with the community in your newsletter, blog, website, or on display in the library
  • Make library information available at the fire hall.
  • Help firefighters get information they require for a training or drill
    • Great resources can be borrowed through the NYS Academy of Fire Science Library.
  • Host a firefighter recognition event.
  • Partner to provide a program or service to your community.
  • Provide a database or catalog demonstration to the fire department.
  • Offer the use of library computers for online training now required for firefighters.


Additional Resources




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