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Fire department officer in Shepherdstown helps get word out

March 13, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Bob Burner is the man with the tips.

Burner, the new public information officer at the Shepherdstown Fire Department, helps provide people with emergency know-how to make their lives safer.

Burner, who took over the job at the volunteer fire department in January, pumps out press releases to local news organizations about fire prevention tips, emergency response plans and other efforts.

Burner, who runs his own online marketing business, became familiar with local volunteer firefighters after reporting about some local incidents on a Web site.

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Burner said he was amazed by the skill level of local volunteer firefighters.

"It just got me jazzed. I was looking for a some way to help the community and that (fire service) occurred to me. All they need is your time," Burner said.

Burner joined the Shepherdstown Fire Department and in addition to his other duties at the department, Burner designed a Web site for the department, which can be found at shepherdstownfiredepartment.com.

Then department officials expressed an interest in developing news releases from the department and Burner became the man for the job.

Burner, 30, of Martinsburg, W.Va., became public information officer in January.

Many times, the information which the department wants to get out to the public comes from officers in the department, Burner said.

"I take it from there and go," Burner said.

Sometimes, Burner sees a need in the department to which he wants to bring attention.

For example, there are enough people to help run the department's fire and ambulance service, said Burner.

What's needed is more people to help with the department's fundraising, Burner said.

"We do a lot of things that doesn't involve lights and sirens," Burner said.

Burner said he wants to put together a campaign to recruit more fundraising volunteers for the department and intends to write news releases to get the word out.

So far, the news releases distributed by Burner have dealt with fire safety, a medical technician class being offered at the department and how to set up a system for emergency contacts for an individual in case that person becomes injured or seriously ill.

Burner said the need for education on issues regarding fire and medical safety never ends.

"My goal for this year is to put a face on the department," said Burner.

Burner's job as public information officer also involves releasing information about emergency calls which are handled by the department, which has about 100 members.

"We're just trying to be proactive with the public," said Ross Morgan, the department's fire chief. Morgan said department officials have been interested in spreading the word about the department and fire issues and believed Burner was the person for the job given his background.

Morgan said he also likes the Web site that Burner developed for the department, adding that it includes reports of fire and accident scenes, classes being offered and upcoming events at the department.

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