Swamped with your writing assignments? Take the weight off your shoulder!
For this assignment, you will be writing an op-ed to be run in your local newspaper. This op-ed is in response to a local news station’s recent airing of a segment exposing an anonymous watchdog’s allegation that the protective clothing ensembles (bunker gear) for your fire department are unsafe and do not meet the current National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1851 standards. During the report, the news station aired a single image of an older ensemble the watchdog claims is from your fire department.
The watchdog has made the accusations listed below.
Your fire department has some protective clothing that is at least 10 years old (meaning that the use of this gear would not comply with NFPA 1851).
Most your fire department’s gear was not being retired until after 10 years of service. He indicated that some helmets were in service for 20 years.
Your fire department has struggled with providing all of their firefighters with full gear as required by the NFPA (unknown if due to a budgetary or leadership issue).
Most of the bunker gear at your department is worn out and has obvious signs of degradation.
Your department does not include a drag rescue device required in protective coats.
Firefighter injuries have resulted from working in substandard gear.
The public is at greater risk due to the degraded abilities of the fire department gear being used.
The mayor and the fire chief are understandably concerned about the allegations and the public’s concern for safety; however, they believe the accusations to be false. As such, they have procured a full-page space in the local newspaper to counter the allegations and set the record straight. You have been tasked with doing the research and writing the op-ed. You have been advised by the newspaper that you have a 1,500-word limit, and you may use up to five images.
Note: You will base your op-ed on actual data, information, and evidence from your own fire department. That means you will need to research the protective equipment used in your station. Use the results to formulate and substantiate your op-ed.
Your op-ed should accomplish the objectives provided below.
Your piece should contain 1,300–1,500 words and at least two (but no more than five) pictures.
Begin with an introduction that clearly states the purpose of the op-ed with a well-stated argument.
Speak directly to the audience (the public), not the watchdog. Tell them why this is important to them and to you.
Offer clear evidence and support to counter the allegations. This evidence may include facts, figures, and information, such as current photographs (no more than five), specific details and data regarding the existing equipment in the department, department policies, or inspection results indicating the equipment is within standards.
If for some reason any allegation is determined to be valid, acknowledge it and indicate the corrective measures that need to be taken.
End your op-ed with a concise, yet strong final paragraph that reiterates your argument and puts the public’s mind at ease. Be sure to include a summary that addresses how maintaining fire service equipment standards directly supports response capability. Propose some kind of call to action (e.g., ask citizens to visit the fire department, suggest to have an open-house day for the community to interact with the department).
Review the helpful tips below.
Do not do a point-by-point rebuttal of the accusations or attack the watchdog, as that can come across as petty. Instead, mention the accusations in the news story once, and then frame your entire op-ed around arguing your case with specific evidence that the department has equipment that is safe and within standards. Your argument and evidence alone should shut down the accusations without personally attacking the watchdog. Take the high road!
Remember that an op-ed presents an opinion. In this case, you are a firefighter at this department, but you are also the one voice expressing the collective opinion of the department. Make it personal!
There is a wealth of information on how to write an effective op-ed that you can search for on the internet. The following resource Op-Ed Writing: Tips and Tricks is just one example of some guidance to follow.
While you are not required to use external resources in your op-ed, citing reputable sources, such as NFPA guidelines, may add credibility to your case. Ensure any sources used are properly cited and have references in APA Style. APA formatting is otherwise not required for this project.