Fire Dept. honored for service Awarding judges cite 'long-term views'

September 02, 1992|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Staff Writer

The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services will be honored today with an award for quality service, one of only three such awards given in the Washington metropolitan area.

The department was chosen for its commitment and creativity in providing service, said Clair S. Sassin, director of communications for KPMG Peat Marwick, an accounting and consulting firm. KPMG co-sponsored the award with the Government Finance Officers Association of the Washington area.

"In these . . . tough economic times, there are some governments that are doing some great things and have planned not just short-term views but long-term views," Ms. Sassin said.

The seven-member panel of judges was impressed with the department's year-old community service and outreach program. The judges also noted a community assistance program, complaint log, suggestion boxes and posters, Ms. Sassin said. Some of these quality service initiatives cost little or nothing, she added.

The department "has embodied [quality service] in its day-to-day operations," Ms. Sassin said. "I can't think of anything better than saving lives."

The panel liked the department's seven-page booklet, "After the Fire," which is given to fire victims to answer basic questions.

Judges also noted the department's Teddy Bear Giveaway program. The department has stocked its ambulances with a supply of teddy bears that staff members give to injured or traumatized children.

"What they have found is it calms down children and improves interaction," Ms. Sassin said.

The department was to receive a marble plaque for general management this morning at a breakfast ceremony at the Hyatt Regency in Bethesda.

Also receiving awards are the Prince George's County Office of Finance and Rockville for general management and financial management, respectively.

TC "This is a great honor for us," said Lt. Michael W. Gearhart, manager of the department's customer service program. "This is something we're really proud of.

"Most people think of businesses as Hecht's or Woodies when they think of customer service, but not a fire department," he said.

This is the first time a fire department has been honored in the award's two-year history. The winners were selected from 10 applicants.

The panel reviewed the government agencies' leadership, quality planning, concern for citizen and customer satisfaction, human resource utilization, information and analysis, characteristics of the quality service effort, quality assurance and quality results.

"This has to be the underlying way to do business," Ms. Sassin said.

She said department aims to "exceed expectations to their citizens. They don't just want to maintain; they want to improve."

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