Eastern America's Highest Volunteer Fire Department!

Using Social Media in the Fire Service
to Engage and Inform

This year I was given the opportunity to speak at the 2015 South Atlantic Fire Rescue Expo in Raleigh (SAFRE) about my use of social media as a Fire Service Public Information Officer (PIO).

Recent studies have shown that multi-platform use is on the rise: 52 percent of online adults now use two or more social media sites, a significant increase from 2013, when it stood at 42 percent of Internet users.

Why is social media popular and a good, free tool that we should use? I believe it’s two-fold — the ease of use and the ability to choose your content — by following, friending, etc. Social media is extremely easy to access, read, update and share with social media apps allowing mobile users to receive content on their mobile devices — smart phones, tablets, e-readers, etc. — versus desktop users — computers and laptops.

We use social media quite a bit in the “Ville,” with updates and incident posts populated in near-real time as it happens. We certainly didn’t start out that way, however as we progressed and received feedback from our “customers” we learned and developed an approach to social media that keeps our intended audience(s) informed and educated on what we do — WHILE simultaneously feeding and satisfying the media with the information they need in order to do their jobs effectively and accurately.

Several studies have shown that, on average, people spend over 23 percent of their time on social media sites each day and three times as much time on Social Media sites than on email.


Hepatitis C increase

By PATRICK WHITTLE, Associated Press

MACHIAS, Maine (AP) — Public health agencies and drug treatment centers nationwide are scrambling to battle an explosive increase in cases of hepatitis C, a scourge they believe stems at least in part from a surge in intravenous heroin use.

In response, authorities are instituting or considering needle exchange programs but are often stymied by geography — many cases are in rural areas — and the cost of treatment in tight times.

In Washington County, at the nation's eastern edge, the rate of the acute form of hepatitis C last year was the highest in a state that was already more than triple the national average. The problem, health officials there agree, is spurred by the surge in the use of heroin and other injectable drugs and the sharing of needles to get high.



NFPA Post-Holiday Safety

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there are more home structure fires in the cooler months than any other time of year. As pine needles begin to drop on living room carpets, NFPA is offering suggestions for safe storage and removal of holiday decorations.

“It’s not uncommon to see residents keeping lights and Christmas trees up past December,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of communications for NFPA. “The reality is, continued use of seasonal lighting and dried-out Christmas trees can pose significant fire hazards in and outside the home.”

Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they have a higher chance of being deadly. NFPA recommends getting rid of the tree when it’s dry. Dried trees should not be kept in the home, garage, or placed outside against the home. Check with your local community to find a recycling program.


Beech Mountain Volunteer Fire Department Reinforces Newer Smoke Alarm Recommendations during Fire Prevention Week, October 9-15, 2011

What’s the best way to protect your family from fire? Be ahead of the game, of course. With more than 360,000 home fires reported in the United States in 2009, according to the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), your best defense is a good offense. That’s why Beech Mountain’s Volunteer Fire Department is teaming up with NFPA during the October 9-15, 2011, to let our community know: “It’s Fire Prevention Week. Protect your Family from Fire!” This year’s campaign focuses on preventing the leading causes of home fires -- cooking, heating and electrical equipment, as well as candles and smoking materials. Additionally, it urges people to protect their homes and families with life-saving technology and planning.


Shedding Light on Another
Potential Fire Hazard

A couple of years ago, I moved into a new house and found in virtually every light socket a compact fluorescent lamp. These are the spiral light bulbs that are supposed to be much more energy efficient than the incandescent light bulb, which had been the standard since Thomas Edison perfected it in 1879. Indeed, CFLs last up to 15 times longer and use only one-third the energy of traditional light bulbs. Finding that my new home was festooned with them pleased me greatly, as I am equal parts environmentalist and cheapskate. I had read that should a CFL ever shatter the hazmat team should be dispatched because of the bulb’s high mercury content, but I wasn’t very concerned about that, as clumsiness is not amongst my traits.


Smoking Safety

Careless Smoking: The #1 Cause of Fire Deaths

Fires started with smoking materials are the leading cause of fire-related deaths in the United States and also a leading cause of fire injuries among older people. Cigarette fires occur from being carelessly discarded in the trash, smoking in bed and being dropped in upholstered furniture. Many times alcohol and medication use plays a role. Often the smoker falls asleep, the cigarette falls on a sofa or chair cushion where it can smolder for hours.

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