Twitter catches on Fire

by carterfsmith on 04/13/2008

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 … Read more at 

*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?


Arnold Linak March 24, 2010 at 2:48 am

This post makes i understand that we all need to take further treatment of themselves and each other.

Michael Pokocky April 13, 2008 at 7:00 am

I am all for ‘safety’ and the ability to use technology to ‘broadcast’ disasters et al.

Good side step into ‘utility’ Jay.

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