Certified Fire Journalist Media Academy
The PFD's media relations department has two primary functions: first is to respond reactively, second is to respond proactively. Within this parameter, the section delivers three forms of information: 1 – We tell the community about issues that may affect them: i.e. new fire stations, new fire trucks, new dispatch systems, etc. 2 – Emergency scenes that the community should know about for traffic control, evacuation, hazardous situations. 3 – Information regarding harm prevention that the community must be informed of: i.e. smoke detectors, exit plans, drowning prevention. The PFD has considered the media a partner in public education.
In 1996, the Fire Chief and United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association president suggested that we give journalists an in-depth view of our department.
The Phoenix Fire Department now holds an intensive training academy for members of the media, called the "Certified Fire Journalist Media Academy." The academy requires committing to a full training workshop - with both classroom and activity participation. The benefit for the media is the loan of protective gear and certification allowing the graduates inside fire lines to photograph and report closer to the action on both fire and medical emergencies.
The academy includes: Fire Ground Operations, Fire Behavior, Fire Investigations, Search and Rescue, Hazardous Materials, Homeland Defense, Special Operations, Emergency Medical Services, Dispatch and Deployment, and Community Involvement.
After attending the Media Academy, each journalist is certified and knows the standard operating procedures of fire ground command, as well as the rules governing their scene privileges. In actuality, their greatest benefit comes from learning about the new fire service industry, and how it serves the community in many different capacities. They see how their fire department has grown into a full-service provider, including para-medicine, technical rescue, hazardous materials fire fighting, and community education. The journalists also achieve a greater and safer understanding for the emergencies to which we respond.
The Phoenix Fire Department will continue to hold a media academy, open to current certified journalists and a limited number of new journalists. The friendships made during these three days of training have transcended the bounds of normal working relationships.