MARYSTOWN, N.L. — You might not see how social media could benefit a fire department, but Justin Bolt views it as a valuable safety tool.
The public relations officer for the Marystown Volunteer Fire Department said by utilizing social media the department can quickly get messages out to the public dealing with fire prevention alerts and emergency alerts.
“The biggest benefit is that we are also able to reach vast audiences quickly to get the message out there, especially in times of emergencies within a community such as — the biggest one that we would have had experience with would have been DarkNL a number of years ago,” explained Bolt.
The fire department also posts notices on any product recalls and other information that would be important to public safety.
Bolt noted they also post when units and personnel return from an emergency response.
He says it serves two purposes, first allowing family members of firefighters to know that they are returning safely to the fire hall.
It also helps inform the community so they know that whatever emergency the department was responding to has been dealt with and the members are back at the station and ready to respond to the next call.
Bolt said social media plays a part in the department recruitment efforts as well.
“It allows you to reach audiences both young and old quickly — it builds interest,” he said.
Other than posting safety message to the public, the department also uses their social media accounts to promote events related to Fire Prevention Week, milestone events and year-end celebrations.
“Even reaching out to our community when we have events on the go outside of our fire prevention (activities),” said Bolt. “Letting the community know what training we are doing, it lets people know that we’re prepared and we’re able to assist when needed.”
Bolt said the Marystown department is no different than others across the province.
“We’re providing a service to our community — we all hope to make a difference and that’s what we set out to do whether in an emergency, out in the community or social media messaging,” he said.
Bolt said the challenge to keep people informed as new information arises is what keeps him interested in public relations.
“It is always continuing to change, so as we try to keep people informed there’s always something new. There’s a new challenge every other day.”