1. #1
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    Default Visiting Career Stations

    As a firefighter, I am always interested in finding out different ways to peform our duties. However, as a volunteer, it is not always easy getting access to career firefighters.

    I know in some cases, visiting a station is just a matter of walking in and introducing yourself. However, I have gotten very mixed reactions from this. The best was a station in a Chicago Suburb, which welcomed me as a brother. The worst was a station in Arizona which was put off by the ideal of someone visiting (volunteer or not).

    My approach would be to introduce myself and indicate that I am a Volunteer FF from ... And then go with the flow for conversion after that.

    My question is to the career/paid firefighters. When a volunteer approaches you, what do you expect from that person...besides respect? What is a good introduction? What is the best way to swap stories? All these things and more, would help visitors be better firefighters (whether paid or volunteer).

    Thanks

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    Be yourself. I don't "expect" anything from you other than the same common courtesy you would extend to anyone else.

    Introduce yourself as you would if you were meeting anyone for the first time. I understand that some firefighters may become put off by you walking in and announcing that you are a volunteer from wherever. The best thing to do is try to gauge the amount of interest they have in talking to you. Don't push if the person doesn't seem interested in swapping stories. That will only make a bad situation worse.

    It is luck of the draw. That suburban Chicago firehouse you visited, had you shown up the next day, they may have shown you the door. Firefighters are people too. Some like to shoot the sh*t with everyone who comes around. Some like to sit in the recliner and collect a paycheck every two weeks.

    Be yourself, and if the crew isn't interested try somewhere else.
    "We shouldn't be opening firehouses in Baghdad and closing them in New York City."

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    I go into NYC alot on my other job and try to stop in at different firehouses whenever I can. In almost every one, I have received a very warm reception. Only twice did they seem uninterested in showing me around, but in both cases, the crew seems very tired, as though they had just come from a job. I didn't push it, and kept the visit short. I have never encountered rudeness from my career brothers.


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    I agree that it can be luck of the draw, depending on who's on duty and/or if someone is having a bad day. That said, if your attitude towards the fire service is as a professional (and in this context it doesn't matter if you get paid or not) then you can identify yourself as a firefighter, not a volunteer firefighter. Some folks still get put off by the paid/vollie thing.

    For what it's worth, if I'm not headed out on a call, my station door is always open to civilians and firefighters (vollie or paid, union or not).
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    I visited 2 Austin, TX stations in august of '02. Introduced myself as a call firefighter from Mass. I also wanted to do a patch and t-shirt swap. Everyone was friendly to me and gave me the tour at both stations I visited.

    Scott

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    I can think of very few reasons for a firefighter to act rudely towards ANY visitor ESPECIALLY a fellow firefighter. If youre tired,crabby,mad at your wife, put your game face on and play nice. now if your visitor "acts up" then its ok to respond accordingly. We will always try and accomodate a visitor. It's not that tough to do. I would hope that the majority of folks out here would be hospitable, OR a respectful visitor.

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    When I have been on duty and a visitor comes by to visit the station and shoot the bull, I always try to make time to show em around and listen to what they have to say. That being said dont walk into my station and ask right off the bat if you can have a patch or get a t-shirt. It gives the impression that the only reason you are there is to get stuff. Chances are after we sit around and bs for awhile I will probably offer you one anyway, unless we get a call and I have to go. I know people who treat visitors both ways some will bend over backward to make you feel at home, shower you with gifts and even invite you to sit in on dinner, and then there are some who wont give you the time of day, and just sit on the couch watching tv, or they will head to the bunkroom which is more or less off limits.
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    The few times I get Visitors at the Box, I give them the $1.00 tour and will be more than happy to show them around. I'll talk for as long as I can and do what I have to. When I'm off duty at the main stationI have no problem talking to someone and showing them around.

    When I was in Baltimore this summer I was shown nothing but courtesy by my brothers their.
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    I have seen it from all sides. At my volunteer station we have had both career FFs and Volunteer FFs stop by and we always treat them like a family member. As a career FF, I have been at the station when other FFs stop by and have seen my "co-workers" turn a cold shoulder to them. I try to make any visitors feel welcome and give them a tour of the station and swap stories.

    I have been a visitor to stations also. I have had many a FF be rude to me including company officers, but for the most part, they are cordial It really depends on the station, Time of day, personnel working. Even though it is not right, many FFs think of visitors as intruders into "their" home. Yes, it is our home but, we are a public entity and the public is our customer. As long as it is a reasonable time, we need to treat them like a welcome guest.
    Career/Volunteer, We are all professionals!

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    I Have been to Career and Vollie Fire Stations in the US and have always been treated with the utmost respect and courtesy, the same applies when the Brothers come to the UK, always a warm welcome a meal and a bed if need be.
    Steve Dude
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    Smile Here Too..........

    Most stations in this area are "combination" with a mix of Career and Volunteer, who is in the station varies depending on day, night, etc. Many of our Career people work a "Daywork" shift, so you're more likely to encounter a Career FF at 2PM on Wednesday and a Volunteer at 7PM on Saturday. That said, Everyone is welcome at any time, anywhere, based on what I've seen over the years. Our station is on a main road, so we get our share of visitors. IAFF Local 1619 holds a softball tournament around Labor day each year. This is a huge event that attracts teams from IAFF locals all over the US. Many times someone in the area for the tournament will stop in for a visit. We've had a few visitors who didn't know that they were visiting a Volunteer station until they had been there for a while. Never had a bad day with anyone who dropped in. If you find youself in the Wash. DC/Baltimore area, we're easy to find. Or go to www.gdvfd18.com Stay Safe....
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    I have a rule when people show up to my work. Treat them how you would want to be treated.
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    I stopped at a couple of stations on my recent trip to Washington and Vancouver. I was never shuned away, but treated as one of their own, and managed a few shirts and traded some patches as well.

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    Bring Pie and Ice Cream!!! It works! We love pie and ice cream! When we get visitors we treat them like gold. If they brought desert we would let them be chief!
    IAFF member, Love this job! Remember the oath!

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    Being stationed in the Navy I visit station all over .when I am home on leave . Visiting my home town fire department and going up to Buffalo I was treated real well they offered a cup of coffee . same when I went to NYC . only time I got a luke warm was in Mass. Stationed on US terr. of Guam the Guam fire department does not have the best of equipment or apparatus . but still they are just as friendly and Great group of Guys . always willing to feed you. you get lots of Japanese and Korean firefighters on vacation they get the near royal treatment . I find nice to talk to our brothers from Asia .

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    We have Volunteer firefighters stop in from time to time. Just last week we had one from a suburb South of Atlanta show up in blue jeans, cowboy boots, cowboy boots, and his "uniform" shirt from his vollie dept that must have had 10 different patches, badges, albels on it. It was real hard to take him serious.

    A few weeks before we had a volunteer FF from Florida stop in and he was very humble, courteous and professional looking. I showed him around the station, trucks and told him all about our department in depth.

    My recommendation would be what I do when I visit out of town stations (very rare).
    I have been a career firefighter for 11 years and I am always extremely humble and appreciative. I try to take into account the surroundings, attitudes, etc and see if they have been very busy and dont have the time. I ave only stopped by stations maybe 5 or 6 times and the welcome is generally very positive.

    If I plan on stopping by while on vacation or on a trip I always try to take two things. 1) Patch or t-shirt (not necessarily to trade, just to give them), 2) ICE CREAM!!! That is a staple in any fire station and it never fails that it will help your welcome.

    Just my 2 cents.

    If ever in Atlanta and wanna come to the busiest fire department in Georgia drop me a line. If you have the time I can arrange a ride-a-long.

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    I normally do not visit stations but while I was in Alaska on my honeymoon my wife let me visit two- Station # 1 in Anchorage. It was early morning and they where in the middle of shift change. They were fantastic open arms to my wife and I and a fantastic new station. We got the grand tour. They were an awesome bunch who also told us about a wonderful little diner which was what I stopped to ask about. I had MY department t-shirt on and like I said we got the grand tour. We were almost late getting back to board the bus to take us to our ship.

    We also stopped at the Ketchikan Department and the firefighter on duty took us in showed us around. I usually just get a picture in front of the station he was opening doors to the station and closing them so when we got them developed I would have a couple differant pictures. However my favorite one from there is in front of their parade truck.

    While I was in South Carolina was out sightseeing and was looking for some Nascar shops. I had a address I was looking for and could not find. I was stopped at a gas station looking for directions. When I came out since the gas station was no help one of Spartenburg's truck was in the back of the lot helping a citizen. When they were finished I asked for directions. Not realizing I had our department ball cap on. One of them asked where I was from. Since they were not sure what I was looking for they invited me back to their station to help. Finds out I wanted I-26 in North Carolina not South. I also got the tour with them and they made a few phone calls and found a couple closer shops that I visited the next day when I finished the class I was in.

    What I have found is like was said before be yourself. Also I think a good point is not to make yourself a billboard. Kinda like you can tell a new EMT by the number of scissors in his hip kit. I usually wear some kind of department colors while off duty either my hat or T-shirt that does not seem to be as offensive as stated before. It also is a conversation starter.

    Our station is also open door. We are a volunteer Department and I tell my guys if you are in the station open the bay doors. Let the public see what they pay for. Course in the winter we have to keep them closed to save on heat. Most of the guys do not mind show and tell but we have a few who do. It is a matter of who is at the station when you get there.

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    I have a little something to add about what VOLLIEFIREMAN said about the station in Arizona.I,being in Arizona and having lived here for years knows he is absolutely correct in his statement.First,i must clarify a few things..

    #1 is MOST stations and fire/rescue personnell are very "bent" people meaning if you are not part of a "clique" or a group in this state..then you do not belong...so they will immediately brush you off and send you on your way usually after the "hello's" are exchanged.This is whether you may be there for business OR pleasure.I have run across MANY of these types of fire service personnell in my State and am not very pleased with the results.As a matter of fact,our MA company near here are the exact same way as previously mentioned.The Chief there is one of the most brute,inconsiderate individuals i have ever laid eyes on and even though we do have our differences as he and I have conversated many times before about...we still keep "ammends".Even though he hates the fact that im a female Fire Chief(hes one of those redneck types) and he considers his company "threatened for business" by us,he knows he either works with me and likes it...or he doesnt get the help or MA when he really needs it.

    #2 is I am 'considerably' in a "clique" myself...I know and have ALOT of fire service buddies around the state but it was only because I "make it that way".

    and # 3 is this....MOST companies in this state are really weird and I have yet to decipher what the problem may be other than "peer problems OR they simply think thier **** dont stink just becuase they are an "entity of public safety".

    As for me I have no problems with anyone stopping by my station and visiting whether it be they are fire service related or not becuase the way I see it is its better "public relations" when you are decent with your visitors.The only time I am the "brush off" type is if im extremely busy at the time and im on a time schedule with getting whatever it is im doing done.
    Most of this State whether it be paid or volunteer is very wierd people with very wierd ways but once you have lived in this state for awhile...it becomes very "common".
    Alot alot of companies here doesnt like anyone seeing "what they have or dont have" as far as equipment goes.I have ran across this countless times and most of their equipment is brand new vs our old equipment but yet im not afraid to "show it off" or show our techniques and how we operate.
    One last thing is the State of Arizona is what is considered a "right to work State" meaning MOST people here are very "hard up" which in turn gives them a freakin hateful attitude.None of us believe in Unions or anything thereof...as well as other things.We are considered "outsiders" to other states.
    Anyways I hope this helps of why your experience in Arizona was very bad and if you ever come up this way then you are more than welcome to stop by and say hello.

    These are strictly MY points of veiw and the way I see things in this state.

    Stay Safe!

    Donna C
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    Bridge Canyon VFD
    http://cms.firehouse.com/dept/SeligmanAZ

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    Originally posted by SCOOBY14B
    ....My recommendation would be what I do when I visit out of town stations (very rare).
    I have been a career firefighter for 11 years and I am always extremely humble and appreciative. I try to take into account the surroundings, attitudes, etc and see if they have been very busy and dont have the time. I ave only stopped by stations maybe 5 or 6 times and the welcome is generally very positive.
    GOOD points BROTHER.I agree. Most guys here in Manhattan love to show off our stuff. But please come in as a guest and not as a know it all.
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    E40FDNYL35 makes the most important point. Don't come in as a know it all! One of my pet peeves happens to be visitors who ask to be shown around and then proceed to speed the entire time telling me how we are doing everything wrong and how they are God's gift to the fire service. In most cases, these are individuals with little experience and even less training. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy learning about other departments, but I don't need to hear about every run you've been on in the past year.

    Another point that some volunteers don't understand about career stations is that there often is a work schedule for each day that the firefighters are expected to adhere to. If it is a slow day, the work gets done quickly and the firefighters have more time to give you their attention. If the shift has been busy, the crew may be running behind and trying to catch up on the station duties. At times like these, we try to be hospitable, but we can't devote the amount of attention to visitors that we would like.
    Last edited by HM604OH; 10-24-2003 at 11:15 AM.

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    The moring after 9/11 we had a vast number of overseas flights bound for the USA grounded in our city. Two men walked into our station. one introduced himself through his iterpreter as a Fire Captain from Paris. We showed him around our station, appologizing for the state of our Aparatus being rather old and as we refer to in the local venacular "baffed out" He told us not to worry, as their apparatus was also in poor shape due to use. He said he could tell from the condition of our equipment that we looked after it, a good sign he said. We had him and his wife back for supper that evening and apparently the next shift did also. I have never seen anyone rude to any firefighter,paid or volunteer, or any member of the public that dropped into our station. I wonder if it might have to do with Depts that are having trouble with their local neighbouring Depts?
    A'int No Rocket Scientist's in The Firehall

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    I'm with HM60 on this one. Here's a good idea to follow anytime you visit another Dept. You are visiting THEM, they are not visiting YOU. You have questions about how they do the job? Great! By all means ask...most FF love to talk about their FD. But DO NOT just show up to tell them all about your FD and how it's done where you come from. If your host wants to know about that they will ask (and usually they will), if they don't..ok don't push it. Just be courteous and don't overstay your welcome. This all goes without saying though doesn't it? By the way we welcome visitors at my station so if you're in SA stop by #46.
    Last edited by 46Truck; 10-23-2003 at 04:45 PM.

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    By the way we welcome visitors at my station so if you're in SA stop by #46.
    The whole idea of stopping is to see a FIRE station... LOL just kiddin' bro.

    I don't visit stations too much. I did stop at several FDNY stations when I was there in Oct '02 for the memorial day. I will say this, even though I know those guys had to have been hammered on by many many visitors, they always greeted me my wife and my daughter like we were the only ones who visited that day. I NEVER once got the impression that we were not welcome. In fact, it was an even warmer welcome than I expected... when you consider the amount of FF's there that weekend.
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    Red face Hey 33M, no throwing rocks!

    Thanks a lot Dumptruck!

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    I will stop by a firehouse if I am on vacation and have a little time to myself. I talk to the crews, ask abouth their department and equipment, and later on ask if I can purchase a patch or a t shirt for my collection. In all the years I have been doing this. I have only been rebuffed twice....once in a career station, once in a volunteer house.

    In the career house, I walked up to the officer and introduced myself... his answer was big expletive deleted deal. I just smiled, said okay....and walked away.

    In the volunteer house, I was told flat out by their Chief "we don't like "your kind" here". When I asked what he meant by "your kind" it was "you big city types who think they know everything"...once again, I smiled, said okay and just walked away.

    In both cases, I met some of the biggest "anal orifices" on God's green earth. Everyone else I have met embodies the spirit of brotherhood and camaraderie!
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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