A big three-alarm fire broke out on Monday afternoon in Seattle’s industrial district, and as usual, the Seattle Fire Department’s public information officers responded to the scene.
While most PIOs post news on the web after the story, Seattle Fire posted a series of updates on Twitter during the blaze — including news that a firefighter had been injured. The Twitter updates include photos, as well, which come in very handy for the many Seattle online news sites hungry for the latest updates.
“Our goal is to reach as many people as possible, so we want to make sure we are taking advantage of all the different communication tools that the public uses to access information,” Seattle Fire PIO Helen Fitzpatrick tells Lost Remote. “We have about 2,000 followers on Twitter and the number keeps growing.”
Later in the day — after the chief briefed the media on scene for the 5 p.m. newscasts — the PIOs updated the department’s blog with a summary of the day’s fire, along with photos.
Seattle Fire is clearly ahead of most fire and police departments across the country, which is perhaps a function of the dozens of news startups in the Seattle area. Of course, there’s no substitute to covering a story firsthand, but by pushing out information quickly, journalists are less likely to pepper the PIOs phones for updates.