San Diego Firemen Extend Friendly Hand to Tourists
San Diego, Calif., third largest city in the West, blazons the slogan, “City in Motion.” An average of 78,000 daily visitors helps provide the motion—and a $248 million tourist industry.
“Thousands of out-of-country visitors stop at our 32 fire stations each year to ask street directions and inquire about attractions they want to visit,” said Fire Chief Ray Shukraft. He maintains there is no group in the city better equipped to give directions to specific locations than the fire fighters.
“It’s their business to find addresses quickly in emergencies,” he added.
Out of these convictions has evolved a program new to the fire service but which affords the 537 members of the San Diego Fire Department an opportunity to play a role in the city’s forward progress program. Last December 12 they became hosts to the area’s visitor population when each of the 32 stations became information centers as part of what is officially known as the “Host Program.”
Collaborating with the local Convention and Visitors Bureau, the fire department set up the Host Program network of information centers with the blessing of Mayor Frank Curran and Gilbert R. Fox, president of the bureau.
The fire department dramatized its entry into the Host Program with ceremonies at Fire Station 28 on Kearny Mesa. Local and visiting fire officials and municipal dignitaries attended, as well as press, radio and television representatives. Patty Kath, Miss Flame of 1966, simulated a jump into a life net covered with a giant Host symbol.
The Convention and Visitors Bureau provides literature for all fire stations to familiarize the men with the area’s attractions. It also supplies promotional printed matter to give to visitors. All 32 stations have installed Host identification signs and have departmental forms for recording Host information. Deputy Chief L. T. Bell is in charge of the department’s program, with Captain Ralph Anderson handling public relations.
The memorandum issued by fire headquarters to all personnel includes this paragraph: “As well as providing information to tourists, we have an opportunity to project our image. It is important that we receive visitors and tourists courteously, and willingly provide information and directions to various locations in the city.”