What to do during a Fire Station Ride-A-Long
One important aspect when trying to get a job as a firefighter is the fire station ride-a-long.
Getting the possibility to ride along with a fire department is an incredible privilege. You get the chance to gain an inside look at their internal operations as well as meet a great bunch of people that may help assist you in your pursuit of your dream career.
A ride-a-long is when a person is going to the fire station for 8 – 12 – 24 hours to see first hand what life in the fire house is like and how it feels responding to emergency calls.
You go on all of the calls, training, classes, and everything else the firefighters do. In case you aren’t sure if firefighting is the job for you, this can be the best way to find out.
A lot of people will do ride-a-longs when they are testing for that department. This is an exceptional way to find out about the department as you get to actually talk with the people that work there.
If you make an excellent impression the firefighters will keep you in mind. If you make a bad one the firefighters will remember you and not recommend you for future job openings.
There are usually not many requirements when trying to schedule a ride-a-long. Most people who go on ride-a-longs are between the ages of 14 – 22 but we’ve had people of all ages. You‘ll likely have to sign a release form when you arrive at the station. The easiest way to arrange a ride-a-long is to call the primary administration number.
If that doesn’t work, then you may have to go to their website. It needs to be noted that not every agency allows people to ride along to the fire station.
What to wear
Occasionally you will be informed what to wear on your ride-along but in most instances, you’re on your own to find out.
Most of the time you will be alright with bringing a nice dark blue or white button up or polo shirt, some dark blue or black pants and some sort of boots or tennis shoes.
For girls, the same clothing as a man would wear will work fine. Make sure not to wear a dress or skirt to the fire house. Make sure your hair is combed and presentable as well.
What to bring
You‘re not going to need much when you go on your ride-a-long. The morning generally consists of the firefighters getting their gear organized on the rigs and then a workout. Some departments will let you work out with the crews. If this is the case you have to bring some workout clothes to change into.
I would also bring a notepad and something to study during the down time. If you have some homework or a study book to bring you should bring it. I‘d bring some cash ($20) to pitch in for food in the event that they allow you to join.
Some crews will do their own food so bring a little bit of food to eat for lunch. You‘re a guest in their house so bringing some snacks (donuts, bagels, cookies, etc.) is a nice touch.
What to do during the ride-a-long
You are going to need to arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled time. Make sure you say “hi” and introduce yourself to everyone you meet. Make sure to also walk in with a smile and act like you actually want to be there.
First thing to do is to find the captain of the shift and let him know you will be the ride-a-long for the day. He‘s going to sort you out and tell you how the day will go. He most likely will direct you to the firefighter that will sort you out on where to place your backpack/bag and inform you what you may be doing on calls.
The firefighter will also give you the tour so that you know where is at as well as also give you a layout of how the day will go. I would have a list of questions you plan on asking the firefighters when you get some free time. If it‘s not too busy that day you’ll be able to talk with the men on shift and ask as many questions as you want. We firefighters like when the ride-a-long is engaged at some point of the day.
Remember… You’re ALWAYS being looked at
It depends on what your departments‘ rules are but you‘ll be doing something different on the calls you get. Just make sure it‘s clear on what your job is and the number 1 rule should be to try not to get in the way. If there is some training going on try to get involved as most as you can. You can really learn a lot from training or just watching them train.
Below are some tips to follow when you are going on a ride-along:
1. You are a guest. You need to behave like a considerate guest – otherwise you will wear out your welcome very quickly and will look bad among the other firefighters.
2. There is a camaraderie that exists when a company has been together for a while. Sometimes the bantering and joking gets quite rough. Get used to it! You’ll have to earn your way into this group. Be careful and go slow or you’ll create resentment.
3. Use discretion in your activities while in the firehouse. There is always more time to lift weights, lay in the recliner, play on the computer and talk on the phone. These actions describe your character to the other crew members.
4. Remember, the public is always watching you. Even though you probably have non-fire department related apparel on, you are still considered to be a representative of that fire department (or other agency) – for the most part, and the public doesn’t know the difference.
5. You should be the last person to sit down to eat, the last person to fill your plate, and the first person done eating. Always be the first person to start performing kitchen cleanup.
6. Address all company officers and chief officers by rank. They earned it; you should respect it.
7. SMILE! SMILE! SMILE!
8. Always offer to help when you get the opportunity.
9. You are at the fire station to learn; so do it!
Things to bring:
- Workout clothes
- At least $20 cash
- Some sort of snack for the crew to eat
- Some food for yourself
- Notebook and something to write with
- Study material
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