1. #1
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    Question What should I do on a Ride-Along?

    Hello!

    I am new to the forums. I am a member of our local Fire Department's Explorer program. I've been in it for about 6 months and have tried to "soak up" as much information as I can. I've passed the test and now am able to ride-out on an Engine or Truck.

    I've never done a ride along and just have a couple of questions...

    1. I've heard that bringing some food to the station is a good idea. Would a dozen or so donuts be a good way to make a good impression? If they don't like donuts (and I've never met a FF that doesn't like donuts...lol)...what are some other good choices? Ice cream is not an option as it takes about 45 minutes to get the station.

    2. We are issued turn-out gear and trained to assist OUTSIDE of the Hot-Zone on a workin' structure fire. We do hose load ups, grab equipment,etc. I'm assuming since we're trained to help out on a fire scene, then I should bring my turn-out gear...right? Also, if I do bring the turnout gear, I should bring it with me even on EMS calls just incase we clear and catch a fire, right? Is it ever appropriate to just put the pants on and put the jacket, gloves, hood, and helmet on while en-route to the hospital?

    3. Also, I have a radio that I purchase myself to use like a "scanner". The transmit feature was disabled by the lady who programmed it. I have our Fireground and Dispatch channels programmed in it. I am NOT a whacker by any means and don't want to be taken as one. Would it be okay if I put it in the jacket's radio pocket and turned it on when we go to structure fires to hear what's going on?

    4. I'm kind of shy. Haha. However, I do want to help out and be productive while I ride-out so I don't look like a slacker. Some other explorers have told me to try to help out with cooking, dishes, cleaning, etc. I'm serious here...don't laugh.

    - How can I help out with cooking? I'm so bad at cooking I can burn water. I honestly don't know how to go about helping. Should I just "jump in" and help or ask? Would saying something like "Sir, is there anything I can help you with?" be appropriate?

    - For the dishes, I'm not sure if the station I'm going to ride out uses the dishwasher or hand washes them. Either way, I'm going to be the first to finish so I can help. Should I just ask them "Sir, how can I help with the dishes?"


    5. Also...this is kind of a weird question...but if in the "rare" case we catch a working fire, once we have gotten back at the station and the Firefighters have taken a shower, can I ask to take a shower to? I would hate to walk around smelly, stinky, and unprofessional looking.

    6. What are some good things to bring? I've been thinking about an extra set of our Dickies pants, an extra explorer shirt, some reading material, and money for meals.

    Any other advice? I know that was long, but I'd sincerely appreciate any advice/tips from the older...I mean...more expierenced professionals. Look foward to learning some stuff on this forum.

    -------------
    Chris
    BFD Explorer

  2. #2
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    1. I've heard that bringing some food to the station is a good idea. Would a dozen or so donuts be a good way to make a good impression? If they don't like donuts (and I've never met a FF that doesn't like donuts...lol)...what are some other good choices? Ice cream is not an option as it takes about 45 minutes to get the station.
    -Never hurts. Just take into account the number of people on duty. Doughnuts, cookies, finger-foods in general, etc will be fine.

    2. We are issued turn-out gear and trained to assist OUTSIDE of the Hot-Zone on a workin' structure fire. We do hose load ups, grab equipment,etc. I'm assuming since we're trained to help out on a fire scene, then I should bring my turn-out gear...right? Also, if I do bring the turnout gear, I should bring it with me even on EMS calls just incase we clear and catch a fire, right? Is it ever appropriate to just put the pants on and put the jacket, gloves, hood, and helmet on while en-route to the hospital?
    -Bring your gear just-incase. If you're just an observer, then you won't need it. You should ask beforehand.... as for gearing up while enroute; it depends on your departments rules... mine is that the gear must be on proior to getting on, and you must remain seated w/seatbelt the entire trip.

    3. Also, I have a radio that I purchase myself to use like a "scanner". The transmit feature was disabled by the lady who programmed it. I have our Fireground and Dispatch channels programmed in it. I am NOT a whacker by any means and don't want to be taken as one. Would it be okay if I put it in the jacket's radio pocket and turned it on when we go to structure fires to hear what's going on?
    -Check with the department, but I personally don't see a problem with it.

    4. I'm kind of shy. Haha. However, I do want to help out and be productive while I ride-out so I don't look like a slacker. Some other explorers have told me to try to help out with cooking, dishes, cleaning, etc. I'm serious here...don't laugh.
    -I hate the feeling of being "the new guy" and I'm a very outgoing person who can hold a conversation with anyone... but the best cure for being shy is just being assertive and outgoing. Ask the guys if they need a hand with something... but don't try kissing ***.

    - How can I help out with cooking? I'm so bad at cooking I can burn water. I honestly don't know how to go about helping. Should I just "jump in" and help or ask? Would saying something like "Sir, is there anything I can help you with?" be appropriate?
    *Ya just ask if they need a hand. Offer to set up, tear down, prep the ingredients, etc.

    - For the dishes, I'm not sure if the station I'm going to ride out uses the dishwasher or hand washes them. Either way, I'm going to be the first to finish so I can help. Should I just ask them "Sir, how can I help with the dishes?"
    *I'd say do them by hand first, unless told otherwise... I'm sure they have a rotating schedual in place as to who does what, so it isn't like they're going to expect their rider to take over and do every single task that needs to be complete... again, just be assertive.

    5. Also...this is kind of a weird question...but if in the "rare" case we catch a working fire, once we have gotten back at the station and the Firefighters have taken a shower, can I ask to take a shower to? I would hate to walk around smelly, stinky, and unprofessional looking.
    -I'm almost 100% positive you won't be turned down.


    6. What are some good things to bring? I've been thinking about an extra set of our Dickies pants, an extra explorer shirt, some reading material, and money for meals.
    -I carry a bookbag with me when I'm working for the EMS company. I have extra boxers, socks, deoderant, and travel toothbrush w/toothpaste already on it. $5, lint roller, Firehouse magazine, and my flash cards with vocab from my EMT class [yes, always good to review]
    *** So I'd say just bring some cash, and any training books/handouts you have. Don't bring your ipod or any gaming devices.


    Any other advice? I know that was long, but I'd sincerely appreciate any advice/tips from the older...I mean...more expierenced professionals. Look foward to learning some stuff on this forum.

    -Don't be an asskisser... not trying to sound rude. Just be assertive and open to ballbusting, cause every single firefighter I knows loves to give it to the new guys.
    A man is not finished when he is defeated; He is finished when he QUITS!

    -Former U.S. President Richard M. Nixon.

  3. #3
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    1.) Bringing food is always good. You'll need to know how many guys are working inorder to know how much food to bring. Always over estimate, they'll bust your balls for bringing too much but they'll appreciate it. No one wants to be short on the food.

    2.) Ask your explorer post advisor or whoever coordinates the ride alongs.

    3.) ask on this too, I can see why you would want it, but you turn guys off by being too whackery.

    4.) Always help out. Being a ducker is a good way to get a bad name quickly. If someone is doing something go see what it is and ask what you can do to help. Even if they don't need your help, its better to have asked then to have not.

    cooking just ask. they might have you chop or cut up something, they might just have you wash the dishes used in cooking as they are done with them. they'll tell you what they want, you just have to ask.

    dishes, just get up and start washing when you are done. If other firefighters look to be done ask if you can take their plate for them. Plates and cups are a safe bet for a dishwasher. Hand wash pots/pans and larger serving dishes.

    5.) let the guys take their shower and then ask. I can't imagine anyone faulting you for hygiene. but only ask if you actually did get dirty, if you come back pristine from watching and ask to take a shower you might look a bit off.

    6.) a change of clothes is a good idea, some fire reading material is good too. for meal money bring a few fives and a bunch of ones. it sucks when everyone has a 10 or 20 and no one has small bills.

    listen, learn. ask questions if you don't understand. If its a tactic/technique question ask after the incident. Some people say not to ask why questions, but if they do something you don't understand tactically politely ask about it after wards. Be ready to get made fun of. If you are assigned to an officer or someone else, stay on that person's heals. Don't wander.

  4. #4
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    Single out the weakest member and make him submit. Don't challenge the Alpha right away. Avoid eye contact.
    Logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead.

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    Knock with your elbows.

    FTM-PTB

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny46 View Post
    Single out the weakest member and make him submit. Don't challenge the Alpha right away. Avoid eye contact.
    Lol I can't believe I forgot that one!
    A man is not finished when he is defeated; He is finished when he QUITS!

    -Former U.S. President Richard M. Nixon.

  7. #7
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    Welcome and congrats on passing your ride-out test.

    1- Donuts aren't bad, but a nice bag of coffee might be a good choice too.

    2- Bring it and speak to the officer on the rig you end up riding. Briefly explain your level of training and ask their preference. I would assume they'd treat you as part of the team within the constraints of the Explorer program. You'll want to bring your turnouts on every call (even to lunch), and wear them when your SOPs mandate. Check with your advisor to find out when your dept wears them. Generally, if you're wearing turn-outs for a call, you'll have your pants and jacket on before you get in the rig, and helmet & gloves can be done enroute. You're should be wearing your seatbelt while enroute, which makes gearing up difficult.

    3- I'd leave your radio at home, at least for the first ride-out. You'll be able to hear what's going on in the rig. If the crew is friendly, ask the officer if there's an extra radio you can use if there's a call so you can learn.

    4- Definitely help out where you can. You don't want to be "that guy" that's sitting down while the crew is cleaning. Offer to help with cooking, but be straight and tell them you can't cook but you'll do what you can. I'm sure you can wash dishes to help. Depending on the meal and the cook, they may not want help or they may take the time to teach you how to cook the meal. That way you can go home and make it for your family as a surprise! Check the dishwasher. If there's dishes in there, it's a good chance they use it. Ask about things like pots & pans and sharp knives before putting them in there. Some cookware can be ruined in a dishwasher. Doing them all by hand never hurts.

    5 & 6- Of course! I would advise to keep in your vehicle an extra set of uniforms and whatever you need for a shower. I try to keep at least 5 $1 bills, a $5 bill and a $10 bill on me to help with meals. Usually, we do a whole day's meals for about $5-7, but once in a while we'll do a nicer meal and it will run up to $15! If you have Fire books or your school books, bring them. If the crew's sitting in their recliners, find a place and study.

    Bottom line... Remember that your reputation starts now. Especially if you plan on applying at this department in the future. Be known as a hard worker and someone willing to learn and it will help get you on the right path. If you have down time, find your driver/operator/engineer and ask them to teach you about how their rig operates. Show up about 30 minutes early and start looking over the vehicles (open the cabinets and learn where stuff is in case you need to grab it in a hurry). Introduce yourself to the officer and everyone else. If you have a medic, ask them to tell you about the care they can provide and how you might be able to assist them. Finally, have thick skin. There's a lot joking that goes around and you'll probably be the butt of a joke. Laugh with them, but don't dish it back to them yet.

    Good luck and let us know how it goes!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by zzyyzx View Post
    Welcome and congrats on passing your ride-out test.

    1- Donuts aren't bad, but a nice bag of coffee might be a good choice too.

    WHAT?!?! no self respecting firehouse would be caught without having coffee on hand. Baked goods are a much better bet.

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