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Small but mighty fire district excels at community engagement

Posted by Sloane Dell'Orto | October 28, 2020

Jackie Vaughn has been serving the Lockwood Fire Protection District, in the tiny town of Volcano, California, for more than 20 years.

Her brother was the fire chief, and she was asked to come on board as a volunteer when the district was trying to have a tax assessment increase passed. It had been unsuccessful in the past, but Jackie was able to help them convince the community that their parcel assessment should be doubled. Later Jackie ran for the board, eventually serving as board president for a term.

Jackie is proud of all that they have been able to accomplish with little money and all volunteer staff. In her time with the district they have built a second fire station and bought a new water tender that is often hired on large incidents, which brings in additional revenue for the district. They also established a non profit Auxiliary to help raise additional money by hosting monthly dinners and other activities - money that the fire district can use to better equip its firefighters and better protect the community.

When she left the board, she was asked to volunteer to handle community outreach, which included managing the district website. The site was difficult to update, and even with a 30 year career in technology under her belt, the project was frustrating. So she set about finding another website provider, and found Streamline, which specializes in building compliance and communication tools for special districts.

We just want to go out and fight fires.
We don’t want to have to worry about
whether or not our website is compliant.

When we originally set up the site and Jackie noticed all of the things they were missing on the website compliance checklist, she knew they had made the right decision choosing a vendor that understands special districts. They hadn’t even heard of many of the requirements, but she was able to use templates to publish the required content in minutes. And the site even reminds her when it’s time to post the next meeting agenda.

Recruiting new volunteers has historically been difficult in the small rural community, but volunteer opportunities are now posted prominently on their home page and she says there has been an increase in people signing up.

Even the local Cal Fire folks say they check the site often to see what Jackie has added.

In California, special districts are required to maintain websites unless they adopt a hardship resolution claiming an exemption. And while Jackie believes they could have done so due to their small operating revenue, she is thankful that they decided to go with Streamline instead. With no set up fees, a low monthly subscription based upon their operating revenue, and unlimited hosting and support, it’s turned out to be the best decision they could have made.

And because the website is ADA accessible, there’s one less thing for Jackie to worry about.

It’s important that our community members are able to find what they need, when they need it. And it’s important to us that community members learn about who we are and why we serve.

Keeping the community informed is really important to Jackie. As an example, in her district, people can either place a large water tank on their property or pay a mitigation fee instead. It’s in county code, but according to Jackie, “good luck finding (and understanding) it!”. So they include information about the requirements in plain language on the district website. And when a huge number of community members lost their insurance, they published information on alternative insurance options on their site, as well.

“Now people can go to the site and learn what their options are, rather than going into panic mode. We alleviate some of that panic,” Jackie said.

This small but mighty fire district is doing a great job of serving their community, and not just on emergency calls: Jackie attends all of the free educational webinars we provide on compliance, communication, and marketing to ensure the district is doing everything in its power to be a true partner to all of the people in the Lockwood Fire Protection District.

We're so proud of this small but mighty district! Check out their website at www.lockwoodfire.org/

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Topics: Website accessibility, Streamline in action

Written by Sloane Dell'Orto

Sloane is the founder of Streamline and the COO of its parent company, Digital Deployment