How Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service Use Social To Inform & Engage The Public

Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service is led by the Chief Fire Officer and the Service Management Team. It has 25 fire stations, four community safety centres, three community fire protection offices and a headquarters based in Winsford. The service responds to emergency incidents across the four unitary council areas of Halton, Warrington, Cheshire East and Cheshire West and Chester.

Fire stations
Community safety centres
Operational staff employed
Community safety & support staff

The Background

An important part of Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service’s work is providing safety advice, which helps the service to reduce risks and to improve the safety of the public in the community and the workplace.

The organisation uses social media campaigns to promote safety. It runs campaigns twice a month using Twitter and Facebook (for example Boat Fire Safety week during May 2015) as well as supporting national safety messages and initiatives being promoted by other fire and rescue services. A recent example was supporting a campaign on fire safety regulations for fancy dress costumes following a consumer programme broadcast on national television.

The Challenges

  • Keep the public informed of incidents – traffic accidents, road closures, as they happen.
  • Promote regular safety campaigns using social media to as many residents as possible.
  • Track and support campaigns from other fire and rescue services.
  • Manage and monitor access for 30 users to corporate social media accounts.
  • Provide a management audit trail and history for all posts to the corporate accounts.
  • Capture analytics to provide optimum post times for coverage and response.

The Solution

“We chose CrowdControlHQ for the level of control, and the analytics it provided following research and a presentation from the company.”

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service required a system that could provide control and analytics, plus allow access for multiple users and to monitor the content that was posted on its social media accounts. CrowdControlHQ met these requirements and additionally came recommended by a neighbouring police force, which was already successfully using the platform.

CrowdControlHQ means that people at all levels and all locations across the county, including communications officers, firefighters or fire station managers, can post to the corporate Twitter and Facebook plus other social media accounts, while maintaining a consistent style.

“The audit trail was important for us – even if a post is deleted the record is still there. We don’t have hundreds of accounts but do allow staff members from all over the county to contribute. It also means that posts can be done from a mobile phone which makes it is easy for people to keep in touch when out and about and gives them the confidence that if a mistake is made it can be corrected quickly and easily. The analytics are excellent, too.”

The Journey

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service now successfully uses social media for two way communications with residents and other community and county stakeholders, including other fire and rescue services, local government plus businesses and schools in the area. Twitter has really taken off in the last few years and is used as a key channel to provide urgent information and alerts.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service has kept one corporate account for each channel, but has more than thirty users with access to the accounts, managed centrally via a single dashboard. Using CrowdControlHQ makes it possible for firefighters to post comments, as well as the communications officers and others with something to say. This means it is easier for the public and other stakeholders to receive updates by finding, following and commenting on corporate accounts rather than accessing multiple social media accounts for different fire stations across the region.

There are plans to roll out CrowdControlHQ to more users once training has been completed, so that more members of the service can contribute posts and comments.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service also supports other services’ campaigns and promotes national safety initiatives like the annual road safety campaign using Twitter and Facebook, with links to a webpage. Typically two campaigns a month are scheduled, using CrowdControlHQ to plan Tweets and posts in advance and to measure the success of campaigns using the integrated analytics. These statistics have shown that evenings and Sunday afternoons are most effective in terms of social media communication for safety campaigns.

The executive management team at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service considers social media to be very important and reviews monthly activity reports drawn from CrowdControlHQ including reach, page impressions and number of followers. Using the platform to provide a management overview has given everyone involved the confidence to use social media even more for communication.

“Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service wanted a platform that would allow multiple people to post to the individual corporate accounts. CrowdControlHQ does that safely and securely and it gives the history of all activity, for example who has posted to what and where, information which is important for audit purposes.”

Caroline JonesDigital and Media Services Manager

The Result

Since using CrowdControlHQ, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service has seen an increase of followers across all social media accounts. In the last two years the number of Twitter followers has doubled to over 17,000.

  • All key channels – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+, Flickr, YouTube, Yappie and blogs monitored via CrowdControlHQ.
  • In just 28 days the Service had 437,000 impressions and posted 168 Tweets.
  • Residents and stakeholders can obtain updates on incidents and safety campaigns by logging into Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service corporate accounts via their preferred social media channel.

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