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  1. #1
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007

    Default Learning the area

    Hey guys, I am going to be starting a new job with a new department in a couple of weeks. My question is what is the best way to learn the area, street names and such. I am moving into a larger city, and was just wondering about ways that you guys would have done this.


  2. #2
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Somewhere between genius and insanity!


    This is what I did for my probies..

    I went to the department of public works and got a copy of their snow plowing routes.

    The DPW breaks the city down into sections East, Central and West, much like our response districts) for the city's plow drivers and private contractors.

    There is one route per page.

    I gave them to the probies. They can learn one set of streets at a time, and see how they intersect.

    It also helps to drive in the area to learn where the streets are before you get assigned to drive a rig!
    ‎"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."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

  3. #3
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2006


    First of all, it's good to see that you're asking this question- knowing the district is one of the most critical and fundamental responsibilities for an engineer or any operator of fire apparatus. Of course it will take some time, especially if you are not from the area. But here are a few ideas that I have found useful.

    First, when you come in at the start of your tour of duty, go to the front office and grab the log book. Look up all of the calls that have been done since your last shift, take the addresses down, and go find them on the station maps. Plan out your route using the maps as if you're responding to a call there. This will help you to learn certain addresses, and it will also help to familiarize you with different streets, residential, commercial, and industrial subdivisions and so on.

    Secondly, talk to the more experienced engineers/operators in your hall and ask them where the "frequent flyers" are in the district, for example the old folks home where the alarm goes off twice a week, the local shopping mall, the schools, anything that has a high frequency of calls. Not only that, but also ask about intersections and streets that are common for motor vehicle collisions. Learn where these are, and how to get there. That way when the call comes in you'll at least have some idea of where you're going.

    Third, drive lots! If you will not be driving right away because of probation or whatever the case may be, talk to your captain and see if maybe you could drive under non emergency conditions such as when inspecting, or when you're driving back to the hall from a call.

    Follow a few steps like this and give yourself a bit of time and before you know it you'll know the area like the back of your hand.

  4. #4
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Montgomery IN


    I live in the town next to where I work. To learn the streets, I would take a different route to work every shift. Sometimes I would leave a little bit earlier to make sure I wasn't late. When I got to work I would make a map of the route I took and write the street names down.

    One of the guys I work with said he got a job as a pizza delivery on his days off. He said he got to know the streets real fast.(not what I would want to do, but it worked for him)


  5. #5
    MembersZone Subscriber ullrichk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Deleted by the forum gremlins


    Be sure to ask the experienced drivers about unusual street conditions. There's usually a route or two that looks great on the map but that is all but impassible in a truck (low bridges, high traffic during peak hours, steep grades, narrow streets, etc.)

    We have a collection of maps of our city with the street names removed for map practice. Probies frequently quiz each other while mopping floors, etc.

    Good advice on knowing the "hot spots." A heads-up there is going to buy you a little time on the obscure addresses.

    a ship in a harbor is safe. . . but that's not what ships are for

  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber
    Join Date
    Oct 2002


    All good advice so far. I was not from the town I work for, so it was somewhat difficult for me the first year or so. Here is what I did. In the winter of 92-93 (Holy Moly, was it THAT long ago?) I got a part time job driving for one of the larger local home heating oil companies. They are a good place to work PT as they usually have several firefighters working for them, so they generally know the drill. Hours, availability and such. I was assigned a route in the town I worked in, and by the end of that first winter I was razor sharp not only on streets, but also addresses, which side of the streets the odds and evens were on, which way the numbers ran, all that. Plus I made some decent coin. I worked for them for 9 seasons, and would still be there if a better job that was available year round had not come along. Oh and by the way, on the addresses thing, just the other night, my first 2 runs were to houses that I used to deliver to, including one that is up a long out of the way driveway. Nice to know the house you are going to before you are even out the door. The 2 guys with me were quite impressed..........
    Leroy140 (yes, THAT Leroy)
    Fairfield, CT, Local 1426
    IACOJ Tillerman

  7. #7
    MembersZone Subscriber Bikefire's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Bethlehem, PA


    I knew only three streets in the city where I work today. Over 800 streets, 20 square miles.

    I went to city engineering and got a map, and created a map book. I got a job delivering pizzas and learned my way around town.

    Fun way to learn the streets with free food! It worked very well for me.

    That was 21 years ago. Now we just type the address on the MDT.
    Be kind to fire fighters. Please don't let your dogs use fire hydrants.

  8. #8
    Forum Member DennisTheMenace's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Washington, DC/Northern Virginia


    Quote Originally Posted by Bikefire View Post
    I got a job delivering pizzas and learned my way around town.
    I agree that is the BEST way to do it, but also do Chinese Food instead of Pizza, folks seem to tip a little better.
    Be for Peace, but don't be for the Enemy!
    -Big Russ

    Learn from the mistakes of others; you won't live long enough to make them all yourself.

    Quote Originally Posted by nyckftbl View Post
    LOL....dont you people have anything else to do besides b*tch about our b*tching?

  9. #9
    MembersZone Subscriber
    Join Date
    Jan 1999


    We start all new recruits learning the addresses of the main roads. Our city has its own 0 0 point for streets. So the addresses go out from their and main roads are 400, 800 and so on. This gives them a general vicinity to go to for an address. Next they have to fill out blank maps for the district they are assigned to. And finally they work on other districts.

  10. #10
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2005


    See if the local government you work for has a Geographic Information Systems group. We are able to get maps of any part of our department without the street names on them.

    With my last "sub" we got a blank map and he would fill in the areas we drove that day. He was able to make notes on the area also. A good station drill is to draw a part of your coverage area on a dry-erase board and play name that street with the loser buying a round (of pop) for the rest of the crew.

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