French Village (IL) Fire District Relies on First Arriving for Recruitment and Communication Improvements

The fire department struggled with communication internally and in its recruitment efforts with an antiquated website service.

The French Village Fire Protection District in Illinois is always looking for ways to be better and do better. “I don’t care where you are, communications are always on the top of the list,” Assistant Chief Christopher Nordman said. “It is the one thing everybody lacks. We are always trying to get better at it. If any department tells you that they have perfect communication, they are lying to you.”

Before using First Arriving’s digital dashboard platform, French Village firefighters relied on email and word-of-mouth to share information. The department had initially begun using First Arriving to build a new website and for a new recruitment and retention program when they learned about the dashboards.

The department was using a regular website service that was quite antiquated at best, according to Nordman. A FEMA grant funded the new website and recruitment and retention program, and also allowed the department to purchase the dashboard platform. Recruitment before First Arriving had been difficult for the department as they dealt with blight and families moving out of the area, Nordman said. The department has since expanded its recruitment net with an Out-of-Town Firefighter position. Using the strategy provided by First Arriving’s Recruitment and Retention Strategist Walter Campbell, the department launched the new site, prominently promoting their recruitment message, “Be Part of Something Bigger.”

The digital dashboard platform has been received well by French Village firefighters. “They like the integration with Vector Check It, being able to see the status of apparatus and other things,” Nordman said. “They like seeing the daily weather reports.” Their monitor is mounted above the dispatch station and is seen as soon as firefighters walk through the door. “They like the Google Street View, especially when the alarm comes in,” Nordman said.

“Working with First Arriving on the new site, the recruitment strategy and the dashboard has been great,” Nordman said. “They’ve been on top of everything, and their customer service is amazing.”

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