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  1. #1
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    Default Equipment Operators (past or present) get in here...

    Howdy gents. I want to get some advice on learning a new district and the maps. It's a rather straight forward district but having to learn it all new for some reason si going slow with me. I had the luxury of learning my last district over a long period of time as I wasn't the primary EO, but now I am and I don't have the luxury of time here. lol I can't very well just drive the district as the department would have a fit at that fuel bill, and just staring at a map doesn't quite get me there. So, what little tricks or tips do you guys have to help me accelerate this? Thanks in advance.


  2. #2
    Forum Member len1582's Avatar
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    Don't try to learn it all at once. Check a map and try to learn two new streets a day. When you check new ones keep reviewing the others. Also on weekends when there's not as much traffic in the area get to your area a bit early and drive around for 10-15 minutes before going to the firehouse. Make sure you look at the street signs and note the one way streets.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by len1582 View Post
    Don't try to learn it all at once. Check a map and try to learn two new streets a day. When you check new ones keep reviewing the others. Also on weekends when there's not as much traffic in the area get to your area a bit early and drive around for 10-15 minutes before going to the firehouse. Make sure you look at the street signs and note the one way streets.
    Hey man thanks for the reply. I had actually thought about taking some time before or after shift and hitting the streeets in my car. I think I might do that a few times maybe 3 times a month to help. I never forget a street when we run a call there but we can't run them all. lol

  4. #4
    Forum Member RangerJake72's Avatar
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    best thing i have found is to try and learn the major streets in the area, trying to remember all the individual streets can be a bit much, if you have a decent reference map (street atlas, etc) in quarters, you can pick out the street you are given, and back track it to your main streets (this is the easiest method I have found, for I cover a 1 1/2 county area) If you can, do the street lookup when you hear another company run on a call, you never know when you might end up getting called out there to assist, etc.
    "If you can't be a good example, the you'll just have to be a terrible warning."

  5. #5
    Forum Member pasobuff's Avatar
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    Take different route to/from work.......make a point of finding a restaurant, bar, supermarket in a different part of town and go there.....nothing gets you familiar with an area like actually being there.....that is how I would get familiar with areas I dispatched for eons ago.....drive around and explore!

  6. #6
    Forum Member FWDbuff's Avatar
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    Get a list of the boxes your company is first-due on. Using this list, generate some addresses at random, and use google earth to find the addresses from your firehouse. Just remember to keep in mind one way streets, weight restrictions, etc etc etc.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

  7. #7
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    I drive around during my off time in areas that I'm not as confident with. If I'm going somewhere that takes me through town, I'll intentionally take a longer route just to go through an area I don't see often. If you live nearby, start doing your business in town. Find stores, restaurants, etc. During warmer months, if you have a motorcycle, a ride in-and-around town is usually a somewhat fun way to tackle this monotonous task.

    I'm a gadget guy and love my GPS. Drive around with it just on the map setting and at stoplights (or pull over) look at the maps on a larger scale. Great for finding alternate routes.

    Also, if your community has any long time residents, sit and talk with them. They'll usually be happy to share their knowledge of the in-and-outs of the area over a cup of coffee. They can share little back alleys or ways to get around a backed up intersection that map won't show.

  8. #8
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    Lot of good ideas above, driving the local, learn the major streets first, see where you're first in on the box, use Goggle earth or maps to explore the area, etc.

    We have street posters showing every street in our local in alphabetical order, and where they are, either Chestnut = 100 S., Samson = between Chestnut and Walnut, etc. Obviously, learn the "100" streets first then the other major streets, i.e., Chestnut starts 100s, Walnut starts the 200s, etc. In between, we have Ionic (too small to fit the truck), Sansom (we fit so it's a major), Moravian (too small). Now at 3 AM woken from dead sleep, I might have to look at the street poster on the way to the truck to remember Ionic is between Chestnut and Samson, 2 seconds there and I'm on the way. We're working to update ours to also indicate the directions of one ways, every other street in our local is one way alternating ways with too many exceptions to know them all.

    I also like to use mnemonics when I need to. For example, we have three streets with C in a row, Carpenter, Christian, Catherine. I was confused about the order until I realized from the north to south, "Catherine is a Christian Carpenter". In another section, the streets are PA county names. Again north to south, "How Can You Dig Some Diamonds" becomes Huntingdon, Cumberland, York, Dauphin, Susquehanna, Diamond.

    My department's old school way of learning it (not how I learned) is to have the rookie memorize the run cards. They're typewritten index cards for all our box assignments (1st in to 4th in) with the prescribed/preferred response route. Some of ours look like they go back to the days of the horses. If we get something 2nd in, I know those areas like 1st in, but 3rd, 4th in, we consciously take time to check map to KNOW layouts of one ways, and try to see best route to not run into other companies and find best position that we can (try to be where everyone else isn't!)
    Opinions expressed are mine alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Philadelphia Fire Department and/or IAFF Local 22.

  9. #9
    Truckie SPFDRum's Avatar
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    Learn the frequent flyer locations and build off of that. Our dispatch will give a an address, the cross streets, and a box number. With that info, you can learn an area fairly quickly.
    My posts reflect my views and opinions, not the organization I work for or my IAFF local. Some of which they may not agree. I.A.C.O.J. member
    "I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them."
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by SPFDRum View Post
    Learn the frequent flyer locations and build off of that. Our dispatch will give a an address, the cross streets, and a box number. With that info, you can learn an area fairly quickly.
    Yeah, forgot to mention dispatch. You can get enough sometimes to jog your memory just from what's there, without actually knowing where you're going.

    Here is a sample for what we get on the station printer:

    DISPATCH***/1107

    E4

    1413 N CEDAR AV ST NEAR 14th ST (1400/500)

    BLDG (BUILDING FIRE) ALARM:1

    F#0987 BAND:3 GRID:10H04

    BOX# 0666 CENSUS TRACT:0001

    LOC: 15TH ST. & SAWYER RD.

    110652/ENTRY LUIGIS PIZZA SHOP 2ND FLOOR - 12/13/09

    110703/DISP E4 E8 E14 17 L1 L33 B5 B6 NTAC1 - 12/13/09

    This translates to :

    Time dispatched

    What companies from this house are going, here it's just E4, might be "E8, L1"

    Type of incident, number of alarms

    Address w/ cross street (and block number of AOF/block number of cross)

    F= incident #, this is 987th run of the day in the city; Band gets ignored, Grid is ADC map 10, grid "H-4"

    Box # (duh), Census tract is for metrics later when doing reports

    LOC - box address, this one's around the corner (from the old, real box locations)

    ENTRY - additional info, you're looking for a "Luigi's" pizza place, maybe a 2nd floor apartment (not always reliable, but a start -starting w/time dispatch enters it and ends with date)

    DISP - All companies being sent - a little flaky. Here it's the full box assignment, but if it comes out as a "local", this line might just show the first in co., say E4 got sent there for an alarm, and once on location requested the box, sometimes this shows just E4, sometimes the full box. haven't figured out yet why it changes. But when its here, you can see where you are and who's coming.


    ***
    So, you don't know where Cedar is. You can look at the numbers and if you kinda know your city's grid, you can get in the area. (Also, here, odd street numbers are either the North side or East side of any given street, so when I find this one I know it's gonna be east side.)

    Look at the box, maybe you know where Sawyer Rd. is then. (Not always a help, we have a lot of boxes where it's Ineverheardofit Place & Ineverheardofit Way, or older schools, nursing homes, etc. might have a specific box, so the AOF is the box location.)

    Look at the entry info, maybe you happen to order from Luigi's a lot, and just never knew that was Cedar. We have two 30th Street Stations at 30th & Market, one is Amtrak/light rail and one is the subway. Between the two, there are 3 or 4 addresses dispatch uses interchangeably. Same box location for both. Frequently we only know where we're going by looking at this entry info.

    The companies responding on a box can be a clue, too. Having an idea of where your neighboring companies' locals end, and how the four engines overlap, or where the border is between the ladders or chiefs, can put you in the ball park to look at a map and find it.

    I use the map grid as last resort. ADC renumbered their maps a few years ago, and our system has not yet been updated to reflect all the changes. Most trucks have the older numbered maps, and some houses have a conversion reference, so it can get you in the area in a pinch most times.
    Opinions expressed are mine alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Philadelphia Fire Department and/or IAFF Local 22.

  11. #11
    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    This is the only thing I like about city arrangement like WDC. Letters and numbers and every block is a hundred group of addresses. You can navigate to anywhere from anywhere without a map for the most part. Once you get the hang of the one-ways, you're golden.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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