A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

By Rick Jefferson
Public Information Coordinator
London Fire Department

The London Ontario Fire Department is getting its messages out with new and effective graphic messages on the department’s newest frontline fire vehicles. In effect the large vehicles have become rolling billboards, reminding citizens about the importance of working smoke alarms and the dangers of unattended cooking and careless smoking.

Fire crews already make significant efforts to interact with the public, spreading the word about fire prevention and safety. Now their trucks will help them to drive those messages home. And that’s not all. The London Fire Department is using conventional advertising media such as local TV, billboards, bus shelters and bus interiors to communicate these messages. They have also posted the messages in waiting rooms, on TV networks in health clubs, in bars and in community publications with Spanish and Arabic readerships to reach their target audiences.

“We wanted to take a ‘think outside the box’ approach,” says John Kobarda, London Fire Chief. “We worked closely with (City of London) corporate communications in developing our marketing plan. Demographics were used strategically to put our messages where many of our most vulnerable citizens would be aware of them. The trucks are often out in the community, so we thought why not take advantage of the billboard space on the sides of them. The themes of the ads address fire causes and consequences in a thought provoking way, with much visual impact.”

A billboard on a London fire truck - 1

A billboard on a London fire truck that depicts a woman moving a pot, that has caught on fire, off the stove reads ‘Don’t get burned! Call 9-1-1.’

A billboard on a London fire truck - 2

A billboard on a London fire truck that depicts flames surrounding a smoke alarm that has been tampered with reads ‘Don’t get burned. Check your smoke alarms.’

In addition to the graphic messages, the fire department has entered into a community partnership with Rogers Cable TV to develop and launch a series called the 3 Lines of Defence. The series showcases the fire department's efforts in education, prevention and fire and life safety. Each new episode of the half hour series will run several times a week and will feature numerous important fire and life safety messages. As part of its commitment to local programming, Rogers produced this show at no charge to the fire department.

By using multimedia to communicate important fire and life safety messages and the role of the department, London Fire Department is making strides to reach people who can be, sometimes hard to reach. It’s another way to change behaviours and make London safer. For more information, visit www.london.ca/fire.

A billboard on a London fire truck - 3

A billboard on a London fire truck that depicts the smoky image skeleton on fire with a cigarette in its mouth reads ‘Don’t let your dreams go up in smoke. Put it out. Right out.’

A billboard on a London fire truck - 4

A billboard on a London fire truck that depicts a devastated man looking at the picture of a young child reads ‘Excuses Kill. Get a smoke alarm. Test it monthly. At home, at work and school, every week is fire safety week. Practice your escape plan today.’

A billboard on a London fire truck - 5

A billboard on a London fire truck that depicts a burning house on the ashy end of a cigarette reads ‘Don’t let your dreams go up in smoke. Put it out. Right Out.’