Fighting for their image

Traveling exhibition by students at Tiltan School of Design and Visual Communications is rebranding our fire and rescue services as heroes.

Tiltan fire fighter campaign goggles 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Tiltan fire fighter campaign goggles 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
When the Carmel Forest went up in flames last December, Erez Yisacharov, director of the Tiltan School of Design and Visual Communications in Haifa, rushed to the scene to see how he could help. He and a friend who owns a hamburger restaurant distributed food to the firefighters trying to put out the blaze, and inspiration struck.
“I saw that the Israeli public treats firefighters differently than Americans do,” Yisacharov explains. “I had seen on television that after September 11, American firefighters were considered superheroes.”
Yisacharov decided it was time to change the way Israelis see firefighters, and so he asked Tiltan students to re-brand Israel’s Fire and Rescue Services.
He gathered all of the school’s third-year graphic design students in a room and told them that classes would be canceled for two weeks so they could do research and design T-shirts, signs, bumper stickers and other items that would brand Israeli firefighters as heroes.
“They all clapped and cheered,” Yisacharov says. Eighty students were split into groups, each with a different theme. They visited fire stations in the Haifa area to learn about firefighters’ daily routine and see how they work.
“We talked to firefighters and heard about all the problems they have,” Dikla Lehman, a student who participated in the project, explains. “We saw that they’re missing supplies and manpower, and most of all the respect they deserve.”
The first step in branding firefighters was to change the Hebrew term to describe them from kaba’im (extinguishers) to lohamei esh (firefighters).
“It’s important that they be called lohamei esh, because they really are fighters,” Lehman, who does her IDF reserve duty with firefighters, says. “They risk their lives to protect us.”
One group of students saw that “the firefighters’ routine is our emergencies,” Yisacharov explains. The students created signs showing the unusual elements of a firefighter’s life. One sign features a picture of a flashing red light with the words “A siren is the music I hear on the way to work.” A poster of a ladder was emblazoned with “My commute to work.” Both signs had the slogan “Emergency is our routine” and the number for fire emergencies, 102, printed on them.
Another group produced a guerrilla marketing video, in which they distributed fire extinguishers to shoppers in a local mall, while another printed T-shirts with the number 102 and the slogan: “Good thing there are firefighters!”
Lehman’s group printed posters. One depicts a firefighter with a determined expression and a blaze reflected in his goggles, with the words: “Firefighters, fighting for you.” Another shows a firefighter holding a child and the slogan: “You can breathe easily now.”
All of the projects were displayed in Haifa’s central fire station in early May, in an exhibition that will be traveling to fire stations throughout the country over the course of the summer. Ramat Gan and Jerusalem are the first cities on the Tiltan School’s list of fire stations to visit, although the list is not final.
“We hope to really raise awareness about firefighters’ importance,” Lehman explains, “because firefighters are heroes!”
“The firefighters really appreciate what we’re doing,” Yisacharov says. “Israel Fire and Rescue Services’ spokesman said to me that we’re giving a gift that will last a long time, and that’s the best kind of gift there is.”
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