If you're bent on doing a station visit or ride along, first make an appointment. You take a big risk by just showing up and expecting everything to be scheduled around you. Yes, most firefighters want to help. Some couldn’t care less. When my son Rob showed up for a station visit, the firefighter answered the door and told him, “We’re busy, you don’t have a chance in hell. Go away.” A year later this same firefighter called Rob up and asked him to for a trade. Oh, yea, Rob reminded him of the time at the front door.

Station visits can help or destroy you! Candidates want the opportunity to visit stations as a way of showing interest, gain information for their oral, and can say in their oral they had been to the stations. Often they don't know the culture and etiquette. You don't get a second chance to make a first impression.

We had a candidate in one day. He had an opinion on every topic that was brought up, including sports and the current movies. When it came time for lunch, he was the first one on his feet to fill his plate. His mother would have died from embarrassment.

Let me be blunt here. Dummy Up! You don't have enough time or experience to have an opinion! In this situation you have to be humble, have your questions already written down and realize you are a snotty nose rookie. Too many candidates come in wanting the badge so bad they act like they already have time and want to impress the guys with all of their knowledge. BIG ERROR!

This information will spread like wildfire and destroy you with those who will be making the decisions. Too many candidates tank themselves here and they never know what happened. This applies even if you're already a firefighter applying for another department. You are not part of their family yet. You have no time or experience!
After giving this information at a college fire program a candidate shows up at my station the next day. He didn't make an appointment, have a piece offering, or have any questions ready. McFly?

One candidate told me in another class that he had made an appointment and had to wait a half hour when he got there. Poor baby. Understand this is our home. We spend more time at the firehouse than with our own family. So here you come waltzing into our home not knowing what to do.

Should you go to as many or all the stations in a department? Please spare us this part. Don't turn yourself inside out trying to cover all of the stations hoping the word will get back that you did. It could make you look anal and compulsive. This will raise its ugly head in the psychological test if you get that far. One or two stations are fine. If you try to do them all, it only increases the chances of saying or doing the wrong thing or catching a shift of malcontents that will badmouth you.

"Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"

Fire "Captain Bob"