"THE VOICE OF L.A. COUNTY FIRE"
Welcome to the Los Angeles County Fire Department, Public Affairs Section web page. This section contains important information for the public and the media on many topics, including home fire safety, emergency incident information and web links to other related topics.
The Public Affairs Section is organizationally located in the Executive Office of the Department. Working directly for the Fire Chief, its mission is to strategically shape the Department’s public image through directed, audience-focused communications and information programs about Fire Department services and programs. The Department communicates with the public and other key customer groups through a number of traditional vehicles, including publications, this website, public education handouts, the mass media and public presentations. With millions of residents and commercial businesses in its jurisdiction, its audience is large and diverse.
Web technology has provided a new, instantaneous means of providing incident information and publicizing new programs and services. As this technology rapidly expands, the Public Affairs Section is continually seeking ways to apply it to its public information mission. For the past year the Public Affairs Section has partnered with the Information Management Division to create this new website to meet the public's need for more information about the Department's operations and how to become more involved in saving their own lives and property.
Known as the “voice of L.A. County Fire, the Public Information Unit is primarily responsible for the Department’s media relations program. This program includes answering routine and major incident media calls, as well as proactively packaging organizational news into media stories for release. Annually, a number of press conferences are scheduled to announce major seasonal campaigns, breaking news, special local and national initiatives and equipment acquisitions. After office hours, media lines are forwarded to the Command and Control Dispatch Center to provide a seamless flow of information to reporters throughout the night. Media coverage of the Department is continual, as County firefighters are featured at work almost daily during local news broadcasts and in print media outlets covering incidents occurring throughout its jurisdiction.
The unit utilizes a CAD system to ensure that incidents, resources assigned and current incident status information is instantly available to the media. A television monitor systems allow staff to track news stories as they are broadcasted. This unit also conducts specialized tours of Department facilities, provides bilingual media services, and presents several annual events, including the March of Dimes Barbecue and Vendor Day, Contract Cities Association Dinner and the Spark of Love Toy Drive. Centralized staff also coordinates public information activities with three regional Public Information Officers and seven Community Services Representatives at the local community level.
The Multimedia Unit produces graphic arts materials, multimedia presentations, designs and produces the Department publications and training programs, and creates video presentations, animation, CD-Rom’s, DVD’s and web-based applications. Working with the Communications Unit, the Multimedia Unit designs and creates digital artwork for the Department’s publications, including The Pulse, On the Line, and Headlines, as well as many other published documents needed throughout the year. This unit is responsible for establishing, upgrading and maintaining the Department’s graphic design standards -- “ the look and feel” -- of the Department’s materials, including the official website, publications, and presentations.
Working with subject matter experts, the Multimedia Unit has helped to produce many operational guidebooks for firefighters, including the First-In response guide, the Truck Company Manual, and has supported many public education programs. Technical drawings are routinely provided for post-incident “lessons learned” reports, which examine life-threatening firefighter incidents after the fact to help inform and educate personnel and prevent future firefighter injuries.
The Department's national reputation sparks requests for this operational safety information from around the world. In order to help foster firefighter safety and public awareness, these publications have been made available through special requests to the Department's Training Services Section at 323-881-2436.
Established in 1998, the Communications Unit is responsible for producing three periodic publications, On the Line, Headlines, and The Pulse, for a variety of LACoFD audiences, including employees, city and county officials and staff, local residents, fire service officials and others external to the Department. Unit staff also creates and manages content for the Department’s public internet site and employee intranet site. Presentation messages, event scripts, copywriting and speaking points are frequently produced to support the organization’s operational activities and convey the Department’s vision and core values. In addition, the unit creates campaigns to support the Department’s annual charitable campaigns, including the March of Dimes, County Employee Charitable Giving Campaign, the Lupus Race for Life and others. Unit staff also serves as the Department’s representatives in creating public awareness of the County’s Safely Surrendered Baby Law and the role of fire stations as Safe Surrender Sites for unwanted newborns.
The Photo Unit is primarily responsible for providing many different types of photography, including public information, incident photos, digital imaging, portraits, aerial shots, studio lighting, darkroom work and training on the use of photographic equipment. A revolving calendar of special events and ceremonial coverage of firefighter graduations, employee promotional ceremonies, County service recognition award presentations and special events keeps the Photo Unit operating at a quick pace. To assist in providing event coverage and a steady stream of incident-related photos, the unit relies on the Department’s Volunteer Photographer Team of over 50 volunteers standing by for assignment throughout the County.
The Photo Unit recently transitioned to a digital photography work environment, and has acquired several new pieces of equipment, including digital cameras, computers and photo enhancement software. As a result, the unit is able to produce images faster and enhance photos to meet the diversity of photographic needs. The unit’s new digital image library is continually being expanded to provide easier access to the Department’s photographic archives. In its 80-year history, it is estimated that the unit has compiled over one million photographs chronicling its history to present times.
Established in 1986, the Video Unit produces multimedia productions to support the Department’s public information, training, community education and marketing objectives. In recent years, the Video Unit has evolved from the analog system of the twentieth century to the digital domain of the twenty-first, complete with enhanced image quality and greater diversity of digital video application. A compilation of programs are packaged in a periodic video newsletter entitled, “FDTV: Fire Department Television.” This program is distributed department-wide for the purpose of informing and educating Fire Department personnel of the activities happening throughout the County of Los Angeles.
Major programs and projects produced include “Firestorm ’93: Malibu Conflagrations,” the Context Training” series (Ropes and Knots, Ladders, Breathing Apparatus, Hose Lays), FIRESCOPE press conferences, incident coverage of fires, floods, earthquakes, hazardous materials, prescribed burns, and homeland security exercises. Other programs routinely covered include Fire Service Month, seasonal public service announcements, the Medal of Valor Program, Firefighter Memorial ceremonies, and promotional and graduation ceremonies.
In June 2003, the Los Angeles County Fire Department began offering the FEMA-approved Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training curriculum to the cities and communities we serve. The program operates from the Public Affairs Section under the direction of a fire captain serving as the department’s CERT Coordinator.
The CERT Program educates local residents and business members about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, including 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.