Saturday, April 12, 2008

Twitter catches on Fire

In an earlier post we saw that a few police departments had begun experimenting with Twitter . . . And now we see the fire departments Twitter, too!

Thanks to Grant Griffiths for his post in the Twitterverse! Grant runs one of the best blogs out there for those who do freelance work. Others covered it previously, but I wasn't connected to them, so I didn't get the message (there's a message there).

In Governing/December 2007, : Ellen Perlman's (Tech Talk) writes "For the department, twittering is an easy, free way to get important information out to the public. If, in the aftermath of, say, an earthquake, Los Angeles wanted to send out a boil water alert, one message could alert millions of people instantly. 'It's even better than the Goodyear blimp flying around,' says Humphrey, who also serves as the department's public information officer."

I can see the value for fire departments. Apparently, though, me and the LAFD and perhaps Ellen are the only ones who can.

In a search of Twitter for subscribers describing themselves as "fire department," the LAFD was "Results 1 - 1 of 1." Now it's possible that there are departments out there who just haven't listed themselves the right way (it's all public access, so like the yellow pages "fire department" would be the most logical).

There are plenty of users with the word "fire" in their name or description, like @SilverFire, @theCOLORofFIRE, @FireAngel, @StrangeFire, @iFire, and @Nuclear_Fire, but the majority haven't posted an update (indicating a lack of participation) in several months. There was one for California Fire News (@CalFireNews), but they appear to be just getting started, so if you would like to follow them that might help get them motivated!

Here's just a sample of the LAFD Twitter posts. Can you see the value in getting these on your mobile phone?

*Greater Alarm Structure Fire* 15222 W. Stagg St.; TG 531-H3; FS 90, 1
story commercial warehou...

*UPDATE: 4630 N. Cerro Verde Pl.* Small fire starting in a pool house,
spread into approx. 1/4 ...

*Brush Fire* 4630 N. Cerro Verde Pl.; TG 560-H4; FS 93, Small amount of
brush burning behind a ...

*UPDATE: 120 E. 8th St.* Incident possibly caused by small fire in
electrical vault. DWP on sc...
Granted there are a lot of leading edge tech-aware folks in the Los Angeles area, but how 'bout some of the other large (and relatively progressive in a technology sort of way) metropolitan fire departments? Off the top of my head, given what LAFD learned, I would say New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and Houston would be prime candidates. Personally, I would think Nashville would also jump into the mix, but . . .

So you can check how many are participating long after this has posted, here are a couple of self-updating links. These will identify mentions of the quoted words on Twitter.
What do you think?


Lars Hilse said...

Hi Carter,

thanks for the scoop!

Does indeed sound interesting. Well - the value for the subscribers is doutably small. UNLESS you're a local to that specific town/city to avoid traffic jams (or alike). Then there are the journalists who'll surely crave for a tool like that. AND - last but not least - you've got the people who are interested in catastrophies in general.

Come to think of it - yes, it is valuable after all ;)

All the best

Lars Hilse

Grant Griffiths said...

Thanks for the link and the nice comment about Home Office Warrior.

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Mr. Smith,

Thank you for the kind mention of LAFD on Twitter, which is but one of nearly six dozen Web 1.9/Social Media offerings from the Los Angeles Fire Department.

For those who would prefer a non-SMS (cell phone text message) alert of LAFD significant incidents, we offer an e-mail and RSS version to your account or device of choice via:

We've got a lot of cool things in the works, and welcome your readers to visit our blog every now and then - and especially in a crisis, to see what we are offering.

Please accept our thanks for your many years of guidance to the men and women of our Armed Forces, and know that you can now count the 'urban warriors' of the LAFD among those following your RSS feed!

Kindly let us know when your travels might bring you to Los Angeles. There is plenty of room at our firehouse kitchen tabke. and always a warm cup of coffee with your name on it.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department