The elf, whose name is Ash – also known as #OAPFFELF – has been spotted astride ladder trucks, learning CPR and playing with stuffed firehouse dogs.
Ash tangled himself in Christmas lights to help Ohio fire fighters remind holiday decorators to use sturdy ladders and not to crowd electrical outlets with plugs.
Members of Bath Township Local 4537 managed to find turnout gear for the little dude with giant blue eyes and rosy cheeks.
On December 7, Ash was seen outside the Ohio statehouse in Columbus with a coal-eating grin on his face, sharing in the joy felt by OAPFF members following their hard-fought victory in winning passage of SB 27, the Firefighters Cancer Presumption Bill.
Mysterious sightings of Ash the Elf occur daily. And, as social media – Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – are tracking his movements, traditional media have started to take notice. The NBC affiliate in Cincinnati covered Ash’s efforts to promote fire safety, while he was also scheduled for an appearance on ABC 6 in Columbus.
Skeptics of the existence of Ash the Elf can see him on video (again #OAPFFELF) using an electric drill to install a smoke detector. As an added safety tip, Ash notes to be sure you weigh much more than the handheld tools you intend to use.
Still, questions remain. How can this little Elf – most certainly not licensed to drive – pop up randomly around the state on a daily basis? OAPFF’s Communications Director Doug Stern chalks it up to holiday magic, but also a good bit of planning and media foresight.
The truth is, Stern is the man behind the elf and there’s a method behind this orchestrated media madness.
“We do something every year around the holiday season to connect in fun way with the people we serve, to let them get to know their fire fighters and also slip in a public safety message,” says Stern.
He offers these tips:
Go get an Elf on the Shelf. Come to think of it, grab a few of them, available here: https://www.elfontheshelf.com/.
Create a social media hashtag (like #OAPFFELF) and use it uniformly across all platforms.
Encourage members to get involved.
Commit to producing at least one Elf sighting a day and create fun photo images of the elf in action, not just standing around or sitting on things.
Make it fun but also use the project as a mechanism for promoting a strong and positive public safety message.