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Comment: March 2013

If you follow us on Twitter (@fireincanada) you will know that there is a tightly knit firefighting community in the Twittersphere that includes fire-service leaders from across Canada and the United States.

March 4, 2013
By Laura King


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If you follow us on Twitter (@fireincanada) you will know that there is a tightly knit firefighting community in the Twittersphere that includes fire-service leaders from across Canada and the United States.

That’s how I met – virtually, mind you – Ryan Pennington, who many of you will know as the Views-from-the-Jumpseat guy. Pennington writes a blog at www.viewsfromthejumpseat.com and contributes to our American counterpart, Firehouse. And now, Pennington is writing for a Canuck audience as a guest contributor/columnist with Fire Fighting in Canada and Canadian Firefighter and EMS Quarterly.

Pennington, like his mentor Rich Gasaway (@SAMatters) is a social-media machine – as of Feb. 11, Pennington had 18,595 tweets and 2,877 followers.

His passion is educating firefighters about hoarding, and he’s among the best at engaging Twitter followers in conversations about firefighter safety.

Both Pennington (www.viewsfromthejumpseat.com) and Gasaway (www.richgasaway.com, www.SAMatters.com) are speaking at FDIC Atlantic in Wolfville, N.S., June 7-9 and will be treated to a day at the Nova Scotia Firefighters School courtesy of fellow Cape Bretoner John Cunningham (@NSFireSchool), in beautiful Waverly, N.S. I will meet Pennington and Gasaway in Halifax and will be thrilled to host them in my home province for a weekend of fire training and Maritime hospitality.

Gasaway spoke at the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs conference in September and I sat down with him to talk about writing for our magazines and engaging more Canadians in his situational awareness programs. Besides FDIC Atlantic, Gasaway is speaking at the Fire Chiefs Association of B.C. conference in May. Watch for Gasaway in the spring issues of our magazines.

Meantime, to introduce Pennington to a Canadian audience, we’ve made his take on the five Ws of hoseline operations our cover story (see page 10).

The piece isn’t controversial or issue-oriented, rather it’s good, old-fashioned training advice from an experienced firefighter/paramedic.

Still with Twitter, as I wrote this I was preparing presentations for three events, all of which focused on social media. The first, for the pre-service students at Conestoga College in Kitchener, Ont., was meant to explain how and why reporters do what they do and why it’s crucial to get out in front of an incident in this era of citizen journalists.

The other two, one for a symposium at York University on March 8 and the other for a presentation at the 2013 Northwest Fire Conference in Peace River, Alta., in April, look at media coverage of the Elliot Lake mall collapse – the good, the bad and, unfortunately, the ugly.

No matter what you think of Twitter, it’s crucial that all first-response agencies understand how it affects what they do.

If you’re not on Twitter, start by following us and Pennington and Gasaway and Cunningham and all our writers – their Twitter handles are in their bios.
Enjoy the banter, but as with everything you do, use common sense and trust your instincts.


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