Media Relations Division
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Media Relations Division

Battalion Chief Rita Reith
Public Information Officer

Rodger Birchfield
Staff Photographer

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In the age of live news reporting and the fierce competition to grab that "exclusive" coverage, the modern media has become very aggressive in its methods for gathering information. It's not unusual for the reporters to be on the scene before the fire department's first piece of equipment has arrived.

At all types of emergency scenes, dealing with the media and deciding what information should or should not be released are important challenges for fire officials. The effectiveness of any public safety agency hinges on the support of the public and how they perceive that agency, whether it is a fire department, a police department or other types of emergency responders. It is the responsibility of the IFD Public Information Officer (PIO) to create and maintain a cooperative, credible relationship with the news media, which has the ability to influence public opinion. The PIO is on call 24 hours each day.

Responsibilities of the IFD Public Information Officer include but are not limited to:

  • May Respond to working incidents which include Fire, EMS, Haz Mat, Ropes, Dive, Extrication
  • PIO responds to working Tactical Runs
  • Respond to any incident where a firefighter is injured
  • Respond on any fire fatality or serious injury to a civilian
  • The PIO can also be requested to any incident by the Incident Commander

The PIO office hosts frequent social events for the news reporters and fire crew members in an effort to create familiarization between the members of the media and the firefighters. The PIO also sets up media events whereby the members of the media participate in firefighter training exercises. These functions help the firefighters and the media to a better understanding of each other and develop respect for one another.

The PIO allows members of the media 24-hour access to updated information. All calls are promptly returned while trying to facilitate all reasonable requests. The PIO also participates in events related to Media/Emergency Services Organization (MESO). MESO consist of public information officers from throughout Indiana who represent police and fire departments, emergency medical services and members of the media.

What does the IFD Public Information Officer  do at emergency scenes?

  • Compile information and facts pertaining to incident for media release.
  • Facilitate media on the scene in a timely fashion.
  • Disseminate information to media, via interviews or on the scene press conference.
  • Have knowledge of the media's location (safety and no interference).
  • Notify Mayor's office if necessary