The Fire Chief Project: How to reach 1,000 kids in one hour

Your local July 4 parade is a great opportunity to earn status similar to the fire chief

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Who always leads the Fourth of July parade? A fire truck, of course, lights flashing, siren intermittently blaring, firefighters in dress uniform waving to the crowd, kids hollering at them to honk the horn.

Where in the parade are the clean-water operators? Often, not there at all. In one case I know of, the clean-water plant representatives appeared at the very end of the parade, sweeping up the horse dung and trash. Better than nothing, I suppose, and appropriate to the facility’s clean-up role, but actually a bit demeaning in that it reinforces the image of operators as the lowly, simple people doing a dirty job no one really wants.

Can you do better? Have you been involved in your community’s July 4 parade? How might you take part in a high-profile, affordable way that truly reflects operators’ skills and the importance of the work they do? Here are a few ideas:

  • Take the truck. Firefighters have cool equipment. So do you – if you have a combination sewer cleaner truck that still looks shiny and spiffy. Ride it in the parade, festoons it with signs, and have operators march along wearing new shirts engraved with the name of your facility. Honk the horn often to get the kids attention.
  • Pass out goodies. Instead of candy, have your operators hand out goldfish in water-filled plastic bags to maybe a hundred kids along the route. Apply a tag to each bag that explains your facility’s role in keeping water clean and protecting fish habitat.
  • Display the fish. Get a large aquarium, put in several fish caught locally, mount it on a trailer and tow it on the parade route, again with signs that convey your message.
  • Tell the story. Make a float with a large graphic that shows the urban water cycle and highlights the role of your plant.

These are just a few thoughts for you to consider. Please tell about your entries in local July 4 or other major parades. Send a note to editor@tpomag.com and share your experiences so that operators in other communities can emulate them. What better way to further the two key aims of The Fire Chief Project:

  • Raise clean-water operators to the stature of the fire chief.
  • Make kids grow up wanting to be clean-water operators.


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