My Bologna Has a First Name

Grabbing and keeping the public’s attention for the purpose of promoting a product, service or a cause has become a billion dollar business.

As fire and emergency medical services struggle to find or maintain its identity in this generation of flux, what can we learn from the advertising and marketing industry that will help us build our brand?

A recent web-surfing adventure randomly brought me back to this commercial I remember from when I was a kid:


That jingle first hit the TV screen in 1973 but all I need to hear is the start of the theme music, and I can’t help but break into song. Now that’s a lasting marketing message.

When you market your fire department for the purpose of gaining financial support, recruiting new volunteers or simply building company and community pride — do you have a theme, jingle, motto, or tagline that makes your message memorable? Is it integrated into all of your community education, relations and recruitment efforts?

Do you have a comprehensive and cohesive campaign built around this theme or are your efforts more random and uncoordinated? Does your volunteer fire company have a motto, mantra or nickname that it uses consistently in its communications?

In the absence of a slogan or theme for your fire department, what will your community remember about the last thing they saw, heard, read or experienced about your organization? Will it even be memorable? How do you brand your FD inside and outside your firehouse?

Keeping in line with our recent emphasis on this FireRECRUITER key message: “Take advantage of every single public interaction as a public service, public education, public relations and recruitment opportunity” — do you think it helps to give your efforts a consistent message or brand?

Here are just a few examples of what we’re getting at in keeping your fire service brand “top of mind” with the folks you serve or the ones you’re looking to serve with you:

iVolunteerFIRE – The Official Recruitment Campaign of the Erie County [NY] Volunteer Fire Service. Their theme is based on the power of referral and powerful testimonials of why their volunteers — more than 5,000 strong — volunteer.

Lives Need Saving! – Virginia Beach Rescue Squads have teamed up to promote a common message that their volunteers do great work, and you could too. Like iVolunteerFIRE, smartly shares their EMTs personal stories of struggles and successes.

FireInYou – The recruitment message of the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) which includes the call to action: “Is there a fire in you?”

Roll With It! – Created in 2005 for the Pennsylvania Department of Health and EMS, this part music video-part movie trailer online presentation still sets the gold standard for ‘sexy’ in recruiting volunteers. It apparently worked as they brought in more than 8,000 new EMTs statewide. – “Could you be One of the Ones?” is the question that Rockland’s Bravest ask in Rockland County NY in their ongoing quest to fill the ranks of their volunteer fire service.

Life’s an Adventure – Start your next adventure at Doyle Hose Co. 1 in Cheektowaga NY. This campaign focuses on the obvious “adventures” of being a volunteer firefighter and the adrenaline rush that comes with it.

Editor’s Note: Themes, slogans and images are copyright of their respective orgnaizations and/or the creators of the marketing materials.

Share your fire department or fire service organization’s recruitment or public relations theme with us here.