One of the fire districts in my county is starting up an Explorers Program, and I've already turned in an application, but I have some questions I'm embarrassed to ask anyone in person.
Is there any person (like...rank or whatever, I guess), where you're supposed to always call them by their rank? Like Captain or whatever? Or does that not really matter? Because one guy got on to me for calling him Mr. Whatever instead of his first name, but I don't know if that's the exception or the rule, and I'd feel weird calling whoever is the highest in command by their first name, seeing as I'm only 17.
What is the significance of an "ISO Class"? The guy at the Orientation kept mentioning it but didn't tell us what it actually meant...=/.
If anyone here is in an Explorer's Post, can you tell me what usually happens when you go to a station? Like how often can you go, how long do you stay, what do you do while you're there, what can you do on a call, etc. I'd imagine that most Explorer's Post's are similiar, so yeah...any help is appreciated.
Long-winded post, I know, but I'm super curious. Also, any tips you can give me on like...exploring in general would be helpful.
All good questions and definately not long winded.
As far as how you address your superiors, it depends on the culture of the department. In my old department where was for 11 years, we were a small close-knit department. We all knew eachother and were for the most part friends outside the FD too. The whole place from new probies to the chief was on a first name basis. When I first joined as an explorer, i was introduced to the chief... "this is john". In contrast, where I am now is a very large much more formal department. In the course of business, you refer to chiefs and captains as their rank and sometimes even LT's also, especially if you are new. So you need to get a feel for your department's culture and go with it. We can't answer it for you.
ISO is an insurance industry rating for your department's capabilities. Lots of factors, many of which are outside your control such as water sources. The lower the better. Departments can improve their ratings with response times and such. Better ratings bring people's insurance rates down.
As far as what you can do, actually no most are not similar. In fact there are rarely two that operate the same. If your department does station shifts, that will operate vastly different than a department that does home response. This again is something you will have learn in-house. There are going to be some hard and fast limitations on EVERYONE. No explorer or junior program will allow interior firefighting for example. Beyond that, the rules and limitations vary by state and department.
Thanks for the help. I'll try to listen to what the guys there call each other, I guess.
Why the ISO thing was a big deal to the guy at the orientation makes sense now, so thanks for the explanation. I just assumed it was based on the size of the department or something.
They do station shifts, I believe. (I don't know much about the fire department, but the guy running the meeting mentioned A, B, and C shifts, so...yeah. =/.) I'll just wait untill our next meeting and try to find that stuff out.
Thanks for your help. :).
Hello. My name is Alisha and I have been an explorer for over 2 years, and I am the Asst Chief of my explorer post. I have a very close knit fire dept, so we call everyone by their first name. We can even call the Chief by his first name, but to me his first name is Chief.
Yes! ISO's are very important! Know your department's ISO rating and it would be helpful to learn the ISO's of some other local departments for comparison. If you realise that one of your neighboring department's ISO is lower, ask yourself why. Do they have a faster response time? Do they have pressurized hydrants compared to your dry hydrants (just an example, I don't know what hydrants you have)? Do they have fire trucks/tankers with better pumps or more water holding capacity? What mutual aid agreements do they have compared to you? All of these things can affect the ISO rating.
As far as your station time, it depends on the SOPs of your department. My station has Department (not cadet) Training on Wednesdays from 1930-2130. Explorer Trainings are on Thursdays from 1900-2100. Explorers are allowed to attend both trainings although the Department Training is optional. Some departments won't allow explorers to attend dept trainings. My department absolutely LOVES our explorers, so we are allowed to go up to the station whenever we want for as long as we want... UNDER ONE CONDITION: your grades must be good. SCHOOL ALWAYS COMES FIRST.
The best advice I can give you is to do everything you can to learn everything you can as soon as you can. Learn everything you need to know about the workings, politics, and SOP's of your department. Know your MABAS box alarms (if you have them). Know what trucks are first due to different types of incidents. Pretty much I want you to learn everything that the actual firefighters on your department need to know. Ask questions every time you go to the station. You will never be done learning... NEVER.
I have to commend you for your good spelling and grammar in your post. I am really tired of seeing explorers come on here and write like their texting... And they catch a lot of s**t for it.
If you have any questions don't be afraid to ask me. Again, my name is Alisha Fern. I am 17, and I have a lot of fire service experience. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.