By Lisa Yorgey Lester
This month marks the second anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In the post-Sept. 11 era, the firefighting profession has become synonymous with heroism. But, while our perception of firefighters may have changed, their needs and the services they provide have not.
More than a million firefighters from 30,000 municipal or local fire departments protected the United States in 2001, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Nearly three-quarters (784,700) of these firefighters were volunteers.
Demographics point to a decidedly male market that can be broken into two groups: paid and volunteer. Applicants for municipal firefighting jobs must pass a written exam. And they earn, on average, a minimum salary of $29,316, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Average minimum salaries increase with job title.
A Billion-Dollar Market
The fire service does much more than fight fires. Fire departments frequently respond to medical emergencies, traffic accidents, hazardous material spills, water rescues and more. These responsibilities translate into a need for an array of apparatus and equipment that includes thermal imaging cameras, LED sweep lights, ropes and air packs, to name a few.
"Firefighting is a $2.5 billion market," explains Harvey Eisner, editor in chief of Firehouse magazine, who notes this dollar figure includes money spent on rescue and emergency medical services as well as fire service.
Obviously, a fire department won't purchase a pumper truck via direct mail, but it may purchase safety products and equipment, medical supplies and published materials.
Fire departments also provide public education on fire safety and prevention, and are likely to purchase educational materials from direct mail and catalogs, points out Anthony Dinio of Venture Direct Worldwide, manager of the National Fire & Rescue magazine file. For example, Positive Promotions, a marketer of fire safety educational material, has rented names from several firefighter publications, including National Fire & Rescue.