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What’s in a Name?

October 28, 2011

Would a restaurant that serves 80% chicken call itself Bob’s Hamburgers? Probably not. Yet this is exactly what many fire departments do.

Many fire departments operate transport EMS – 80% of their run volume – yet their name is “Fire Department”. And, the leader’s title? Fire Chief.

What would folks say if the table was flipped? Let’s say an EMS department took over fire department operations and their leader’s title was EMS Director. That’s exactly what happened in Stafford County.

The difference?

Stafford County didn’t start calling the whole organization the EMS Department and the leader’s title didn’t remain EMS Director.

No, Stafford County let each division keep their identity and the leader’s title was changed to Director of Emergency Service.

Fire departments have some of the most talented and intelligent people in the world. Yet they restrict their growth by miring themselves in a tradition tied to names.

While attending a recent emergency management conference my mind wondered why this discipline wouldn’t also fit nicely – for many communities – as a part of the emergency services bureau.

Funny thing? It is in Stafford County.

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