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Visiting Career Stations

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  • 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).


  • #2
    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."



    • #3
      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.

      I.A.C.O.J. Firefighter/EMT-B

      "I'm gonna drill a hole in your skull and pump out all the stupidity"
      Gunny Ermey

      "Never underestimate the Power of Stupid People in Large Groups"

      Humpty Dumpty was pushed

      Polishing the Chrome on all the IACOJ "apparati"


      • #4
        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).

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


        • #5
          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.



          • #6
            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.
            IAFF-IACOJ PROUD


            • #7
              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.
              After I'm dead I'd rather have people ask why I have no monument than why I have one

              Official Minister of Philosophy of the IACOJ

              IACOJ Probie Crusty of the year 2003


              • #8
                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.
                AKA: Mr. Whoo-Whoo

                IAFF Local 3900

                IACOJ-The Crusty Glow Worm

                ENGINE 302 - The Fire Rats

                F.A.N.T.A.M FOOLS FTM-PTB


                • #9
                  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!


                  • #10
                    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
                    IACOJ member

                    London Fire Brigade...."Can Do"

                    'Irony'... It's a British thing.


                    • #11
                      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....
                      Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
                      In memory of
                      Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
                      Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

                      IACOJ Budget Analyst

                      I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.



                      • #12
                        I have a rule when people show up to my work. Treat them how you would want to be treated.
                        This space for rent


                        • #13
                          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.


                          • #14
                            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!


                            • #15
                              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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