Another excerpt I wrote a while back sat in my "draft" box, but it is appropriate for the discussion right now:
I said a while back that we all know what good customer service feels like and we all know what it’s like to have bad customer service. Professionalism begins at using our skills, abilities and past experience to improve service quality and to provide excellent service not just to the taxpayers, but to our colleagues. If you don't like the thought of referring to these others as customers, that's okay. Just think of them as human beings who need your help, because really, that's exactly what they are. How you label them is your choice.
Our personal mission must be to exceed at helping people when they need help. Why they call us is pretty much immaterial; if they didn't need help, they wouldn't have called for it. It may not seem like an emergency to you, and in some cases, it may not even be an emergency to them. But they had a problem, they didn't know how to solve it, and they turned to the one group of people in the community with a stellar reputation for helping people. That would be the fire department, in case you hadn't guessed.
Our job is to come in with a fresh perspective and a certain amount of expertise to make things better. I have heard from a number of people that this "customer service" attitude cheapens what we do. I don't know a better way to put it, but to have the mentality that the service we provide is there and if you don't like it, too bad, is not doing right by the people you serve. Regardless or not of whether it's the only show in town, that's certainly not the way we should be interacting with others.
You've probably heard it said a thousand times, "consider these people like you would if it were your mother" or "your son" or "your daughter". That's not a bad way of looking at things either. But maybe the best way of looking at it is, "What if it were you?"
The Golden Rule ("Do unto others as you would have them do unto you", in case you don't know it) these days is more and more apropos. Today's society as a whole seems to forget that maxim at every turn. If anything, we in emergency services should be the examples of that message to anyone who sees us on a daily basis.