As operational organisations, fire departments have a role model function – and this also applies to social media. As soon as a person identifies himself as a firefighter, he is no longer online in a purely private capacity. The 350,000 or so firefighters in Austria play a key role in shaping the organisation’s image through their behaviour on Facebook & Co. The Austrian Federal Fire Brigade Association (ÖBFV) takes this responsibility very seriously. Skills, ÖBFV Medien GmbH and Saferinternet.at have therefore jointly developed and implemented the initiative “The Internet and my fire department”.
The project aims to promote and support firefighters’ awareness of social media. Special guidelines and a hitherto unique workshop concept including train-the-trainer modules ensure responsible use of social networks.
Role model for other emergency response organisations
Fire departments’ internal interest in the project was huge right from the start. Within the first few weeks, 25 workshops were booked and held. During the pandemic, the workshops were implemented virtually and thus became an important team tool in the lockdown, in addition to teaching social media skills.
The external response was equally remarkable: media coverage, interest from other response organisations – and an award at the State PR Prize 2020 in the category “Internal PR & Employer Branding”.
The jury explained its decision as follows: “The fire department members – the majority of whom are volunteers – are not only empowered as ambassadors in this PR campaign, but at the same time receive the necessary social media skills in workshops. It’s a successful internal initiative that has also garnered a lot of positive media coverage.”