Most of us are quicker to condemn than to praise. Most citizens contact their city officials or post about the city on their blogs when they have a problem, or are unhappy about city services or policies – and I have (and most likely will in the future), too. But all too often we don’t speak up when we’re pleased with something. I try to balance the complaints with praise where it’s due, and I want to take a moment to give kudos to the Rowlett Fire Department for their “service with a smile.”
A few days ago, I awoke to a curious dilemma. A smoke detector in my living room was beeping, indicating a dead battery. Normally that’s not a problem; get the step ladder out of the garage and change it out. But this particular detector is in the one room in the house that has a 22 foot ceiling. We’ve lived in the house for six years, have changed out all our other smoke detector batteries regularly, but left this one alone because there was just no way for us to access it.
After two hours of incessant beeping, I knew I had to do something, but I didn’t even have a clue what kind of company to call about changing a battery. I thought maybe the city action center could point me in the right direction – and they did; they told me that the fire department would actually come out and do it. I’m the type who doesn’t expect government to do things for me, so this came as a surprise. She gave me the number for fire station #1 and I called them. The officer who answered the phone was not just polite, but seemed eager to help. He took my number and promised to have the appropriate person call me back. Within an hour, I got a call from another man who exhibited the same helpful attitude. We scheduled a time in the afternoon that would be convenient for me.
Ten minutes early, my doorbell rang and four people from the fire department were there, with their extension ladder. When I went to get a battery, they even said they had batteries if I needed one! They were very careful and conscientious to put something under the ladder so it wouldn’t damage the hardwood floors. They quickly and efficiently got the battery changed, were friendly and sociable and left me feeling better about the city in which I live. Polite, prompt, professional employees are better agents of public relations than any PR firm you could hire. The firefighters at fire station #1 deserve a big “thank you” for their attitude and actions. They didn’t make me feel that it was a chore to help me out – just the opposite. They exemplified the concept of “service” in public service.
Am I going overboard for such a simple incident? I don’t think so. Far too often today, when I deal with people whose job it is to interact with the public, they’re surly, disinterested, incompetent or all three. As a member of the bond committee and as a member of the Harborside HOA board that meets at the station house, I’ve had encounters with the Rowlett firefighters and especially those at Fire Station #1 in the past, and I know this wasn’t a fluke; they invariably go out of their ways to provide service with a smile to the citizenry. They deserve a big public “Thank you.”