Kamloops Fire Rescue (KFR) has kept the public abreast more through social media during the pandemic, which is proving to be the best way to connect with the broadest audience.
“I put out a video about what to do when you see and emergency vehicle driving down the street and we had about 30,000 people on our social media engage with that video,” said KFR life safety educator, Jeff Pont.
Pont said public engagement is vital to KFR so the public understands fire safety and the service firefighters provide.
But it’s been difficult to stay connected with the public in-person during the pandemic.
While KFR has managed a few hall tours and school visits in between waves of COVID-19, pre-pandemic levels used to involve two or three hall tours a week with some 40 people passing through.
As a result, KFR is turning more to social media, putting out contests and content to keep people aware of fire safety, firefighting operations and training.
“We’ve really tried to ramp up the social media,” Pont said, noting people are engaged with that throughout the day.
He said it’s been a good platform for KFR with a noted increase in engagement since the department began focusing more on social media to disseminate messaging.
KFR is also doing different things on the operations side.
The fire department has a new computer program that collects data to identify any weak points, tracking things such as the time it takes to respond to a call, problem properties and ensuring inspections are on schedule and up-to-date.
Pont also said KFR has added a new counselling program this past year.
“And that’s a big thing. We all know mental health is am big piece of being a successful firefighter.,” Pont said.
He also noted the City of Kamloops recently implemented the Voyent Alert app — which sends emergency updates to cell phones — as another way KFR is innovating.
Looking ahead to wildfire season 2022, KFR is doing more planning.
Pont said the fire department is meeting more regularly with the BC Wildfire Service ahead of the summer fire season to ensure both agencies are vetted in each other’s plans and play off their respective strengths.
Internally, Pont said KFR is has taken lessons from last summer’s fire wildfire season and started a wildfire discussion group, going over what can be done better and how to be better equipped.
“Wildfires, because of the seasons we’ve had over the last couple of years, are on the forefront of everyone’s minds and I think the public can rest assured we’re improving and we’re going to do even better than we did last year and we’re going to be ready going forward,” point said.