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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

How to become a Firefighting Blogger

In recent months, I have seen many "Firefighting Blogs" pop up here and there. The contingent of East Coast Firefighting Blogs seems to have grown by leaps and bounds. The actual demographic is the Central/Southern East Coast. While I am sure there are other blogs out there, these are just the ones I have noticed. Some of these blogs come from VA, NC, and SC. While the Roanoke Fire Blog is more of a regional blog for the Roanoke Valley and specifically the Roanoke City Firefighters, some others have a National and even an International scope.

So just how do you become a Firefighting Blogger? Well the simple answer is to sign up using Blogger (my format), or Wordpress, typepad, or one of the other many blogging templates. Most are free, some you will have to pay for. There are even websites which have a blog feel to them. is one of these. It offers the RSS feel while still rounding out the site with a lot of content possibilities.

Now that I have provided you where to start, let me tell you how to prepare.

  1. You need to know your audience and topic. Whether it is Local, Statewide, National, or International you need to know who you are catering to and what they want to read. Basically, you need to keep them coming back to read more. provides an excellent blog that is specific to truck company operations (ventilation, forcible entry, and search and rescue). They seldom waver, yet are willing to expand the scope of writing to include building construction and product information/review. They do an excellent job of staying on task.
  2. You need to know what you are talking about. You will get torn apart by readers if you just ramble on about a topic in which you don't have a clue. Be sure to do the proper research before talking about something that you know little about.
  3. You need to understand what you are talking about. I have found that I may take the time to research a topic and make a statement in a post. The second I post it, someone else is making a comment about an angle of the story that I didn't even think about. Try to cover all of your bases.
  4. You need to stand up for what you believe in. If you say it make sure you mean it. I have written posts in the past (the blog is 2.5 years old) that I still have to answer for. Remember that people can still go back and read what you said a long time ago and hold you accountable, unless you are an anonymous blogger.
  5. Make sure you don't mind someone else posting what you said. The thing about bloggers is that they feed off of each other. As more and more blogs pop up, more blogs are linking to each other and syndicating each others content. Other bloggers will take what you say and link to it, copy it, and either agree with you or tear you apart. You have to be ready to be ridiculed.
  6. Don't forget that you can be held accountable. I learned early on as a "blogger" that retaliation is something that can happen. I have a first hand account of how what I wrote pissed the wrong guy off. The problem is that he had the power to make my life hell, and he did not hesitate. That is life, I am wiser now and I still believe in what I wrote.
  7. Write to your audiences level of understanding. How many firefighters do you know who have a Master's Degree? Not too many. You don't need to write like you are addressing Harvard's graduating class. Firefighters do not like $4 words that they don't understand and have never heard before. They aren't going to look it up either so you might as well omit (leave out) those words. I am not saying that firefighters are dumb. It is kind of like a team being as strong as its weakest player. If you want to write to everyone, leave out the $4 words.
  8. Make sure you have original content. Some blogs are strictly original content by the blogger (Roanoke has a lot of original content, but some copy/paste happens). Other bloggers frequently comment on other bloggers posts. Whatever you do, make sure you offer your own standpoint, opinion, or information if you are copying and pasting a story from somewhere else.
  9. Listen to your readers. One of the biggest benefits of comments is to see what other people are saying. Allow your readers to comment. Remember it is their opinion, just as you offered yours in the post. DON'T TAKE CRITICISM TO HEART.
  10. Increase the amount of readers. The single biggest thing you can do to attract readers is to link to other blogs. Link to other blogs you think your readers will like. Contact those blogs and ask for a reciprocal link.
  11. Last but certainly not least, USE SPELL CHECKER. I absolutely hate reading misspelled words. There isn't an excuse for it. I don't want to read misspelled words. Disclaimer: I have forgotten to use spell checker before and I will in the future, but it is not intentional.
Here are some of the blogs I enjoy reading. Some are new, some are old. For more blogs look on the right hand side of the blog. Roanoke's Blogs are on top and Firefighting/EMS blogs are below.

Firefighting Hourly
South Bend Fire
Fairfax County Fire Department 5th Battalion Training "A Shift"
Firefighter Sam
The Fire Academy
First In
Bristol Firefighters
Firefighter Blog
STATter 911

It is great to see so many bloggers out there on firefighting. I really enjoy getting around to reading most of them daily. Keep up the good work guys.

If you have any other questions feel free to contact me by email.

Good luck blogging.

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