This kind of parking is unacceptable #Chicago #Fire #Police

One thing that bothers me is idiots who park in front of a hydrant.


Not like 30-seconds, but more like hours and hours and hours.



So I called my friends at Chicago Fire Engine-35, Truck-28, Ambulance-62, Battalion-17 who advised that I call Chicago Police and inform them.


So I did. Chicago Police promptly showed up and ticketed the car. #booya


Hey Jagoff – enjoy your $150 ticket #0964100A (Within 15′ of fire hydrant).

Then a tow truck (hook) showed up and made my night because….


…I now have full hydrant access again.

Hey Jagoff! Now enjoy your $150 charge for towing your vehicle and $20 storage fee.

Expensive night out for your blatant disregard of public safety. Hope it was worth it.

Friendly reminder to anyone: Don’t park in front of fire hydrants. Ever.



Spent my day with my hometown CERT

Spent my day volunteering with my hometown Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).

On arrival, I thought I was going to get assigned a different task, but logistics and parking was the identified main concern and safety was an issue.


After I got briefed on the event, I discussed our situation with all the participants. As CERT, we coordinated our efforts so that our actions/tactics could best match the safety of our personnel as well as others who were there attending the event.

I briefed the Mayor on our ongoing operations and even looked at a few alternate plans.


Of course we continued to assess our event and think about other safety measures.


And of course we had a few moments to share a smile.


Fun fact, our Council President and Safety Chair is also a proud founding member of my awesome CERT Team. Booya!


Seriously, I love it when elected members of local government give back to their community.

We identified a few issues that will need to be made for the 2016 event (like a formal all-hazards traffic plan with maps, uniformed vests, pre-event plan dissemination/distribution, more participation, etc…). Maybe a formal Incident Action Plan (IAP). Fairly easy stuff that we would be happy to share w/ our constituents.

Wait….What? You have never heard of FEMA’s CERT program before? Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.

More info can be found on FEMA’s website here.

Want to volunteer within your own community? Want to make a difference in your community? Click here to locate the closest CERT Team to you!

As always, I believe I can make a difference in my community. Fun fact: I’ve been volunteering with my CERT since 2007.

I hope you will do the same.


Your image on social by monitoring your name Safety-PIO-SM-14-007

14-007: Your image on social by monitoring your name
Agency: Lakewood Fire Topic(s):         Monitoring your name/branding
Date: Fall 2014 Platform:        Twitter

Monitoring your namesake has been debated for years. But with decreased staffing and less time to do more with less, many agencies are bypassing this critical piece of community relations and image/branding. A good example is when a citizen commented on Lakewood Fire’s SUV parking.


Everyone has a camera these days. We use them not only to capture memories and precious moments, but also for documentation and shaming. I believe Todd was going for the public safety shaming factor here. I am unsure on the previous relationship between Todd and Lakewood, but there was never a response on Twitter back to Todd. Truth be told, these days, unanswered public questions are sometimes perceived as a government agency cover-ups/issues. Similar to the “No comment” – a non-response might even be worse.

How do you monitor your agency’s name or any derivatives? Try these free services: Google Alerts, search columns in TweetDeck or Hootsuite, or frequent basic vanity searches on any search engine or social media platforms.

While Todd’s use of hashtags is fairly standard social media malarkey, a swift response with a timely and direct reply to Todd’s tweet would help stop the perception that LFD is breaking the law or even setting a bad example. Remember, social media is about digital interaction.

The response could also be a teaching point so share with your audience some insight into your normal operations with a simple message on Fire Prevention activities – like hydrant testing. And using the hashtag #FirePrevention pulls up thousands of tweets about educating the public specifically in fire safety.

An effective @reply response to Todd’s tweet could have read:

@stwrs1974 During an emergency, it’s tough to find safe parking. FYI-we also check/flush hydrants twice a year too #FirePrevention 

By phrasing it this way:

  1. You immediately address the issue directly with the citizen citing the issue.
  2. You provide insight into scene safety during an emergency.
  3. You call attention to your normal operations (in this case-hydrant flushing).
  4. You use the hashtag #FirePrevention to call attention to…well…Fire Prevention.
  5. You show the general public you care about your image and want to get the story right.

Time is valuable, so tweet good stuff.


***To download this as a single-page printable format, click this file:



Press amenities…because they are our partners in safety right? #PIO

Media considerations: Press amenities.


Aside from giving the media the juicy story they crave…we should do a better job in considering their needs during a disaster.

However, in this day/age of media involvement and constant interaction, it would behoove us PIOs to better meet the needs of our partners (that’s right, I said partners) in safety.

For prolonged incidents, it would be nice if your agency:

  • Provided a bunch of plugs and/or outlets to use. Power seems to be a mandatory necessity during every day life. Just look at any airport with weirdos hunched around an open power plug.
  • Setting up a separate WiFi for media use only so they can meet their timely deadlines or push valuable info via social media. They are data hogs just like the rest of us. It has been proven for humans to exist, we need WiFi.
  • Held up white cards for white balance during setup…or better yet warm cards to help the videographers get their color scheme setup right. It does make you look like you just got back from someplace warm and now have a nice tan.
  • A simple cup of coffee would be a welcome olive branch in the midst of disaster/emergency. First informal rule of any disaster or emergency? A cup of coffee regularly ranks high on the scale of requests and necessities from everyone. Available 24/7.

Since we are breaking down barriers, we need to explore a few options to support our partners in safety. Look at this setup…


…no seriously, look closer.


What do you see?


Build your relationships before a disaster and strengthen them as you continue to train exercise your skills. Partners in safety.

Let’s work together to better our response and enhance communications skills with just some basic needs for the press. Trust me, a little goes along way.

After all, the old adage goes: you can attract more friends with honey than vinegar…right?