Station Visits and Ride-a-longs

The topic that I will be presenting is getting hired in the fire service. This is the second part of a multi-part series.


So, you’ve filled out your application and prepared for all of the facets of the examination process. The question arises; should I do a station visit?
The “Station Visit” is a kind of mini interview process in itself. It’s a process where we, the “line personnel” judge a multitude of things about you. It all starts when you enter the Station. Below are a few examples of the things “we” look at. I will expound on each topic that we observe.

  1. The way you introduce yourself
  2. The way you dress
  3. If you came prepared or not
  4. Your attitude
  5. Your ability to interact with others

One of the first observations that we will notice is if you are outgoing by taking the initiative to make the first attempt at meeting everyone. We will be expecting you and expect for you to give us a brief synopsis of why you are here.

The next one may seem trivial, but if you dress like you just woke up, it will reflect on your personality. We don’t expect you to come in a suit and tie (unless you are comfortable with that). A candidate who doesn’t normally wear a suit and tie sticks out like a sore thumb. My suggestion is to dress conservatively, but not too casual.

When you come for a station visit, we expect you come prepared with a set of questions that you anticipate to ask. Think of base questions that can lead to further questions.

This is an important one. If you come in with an “attitude”, we will notice it and you will be treated appropriately. That may be good or bad. If your visit ends early, you’ll know why.

The attitude issue ties in with how you interact with everyone in the Station. I can tell you that Politics and Religion do not belong in the firehouse. Don’t be afraid to express you opinions if you are asked. Just be careful for a trap. We have a tendency to try and lead you down a path on a subject, just to see if you will take the bait and how you recover or not.

A station visit can be a rewarding experience, just don’t show up late. If you’re going to be late, call and reschedule. This is our first impression of you, so make it good. You will have the opportunity to interact with new employees and old salts that will give you two different perspectives on almost every topic. Just remember that you are a guest to our house and don’t wear out your welcome.

BTW, if you decide to bring a treat to the guys at the Station, try to think outside of the box. Think about bringing a pound of coffee or bringing homemade treats. We do like prospective candidates who have culinary skills.


If you do a station visit and get invited to do a ride-a-long, that’s a big step in getting accepted into our world. Just as in station visits, ride-a-longs are another avenue for us to evaluate you. The topics that I covered in station visits are also appropriate for your ride-a-long.
One difference will be your attire. Most departments require that you wear certain type of attire. Check with the agency and come prepared.
Take the time to make contact with the rookie (if they have one) or make contact with someone you feel comfortable asking about the equipment. Again, bring a notepad and use it.
Don’t and I mean DON’T sit in the recliners. We will try and tell you to go ahead and sit in them. Trust me, it’s a trap.
If you start your ride-a-long at shift change, be the first one to start station chores. If someone tells you not to bother, it’s probably another “trap”. Remember you are constantly being evaluated.
When you go over the equipment, take your time. You are there to learn as much as you can about your prospective employer and the services that we offer.
If you are invited to dinner and you feel comfortable, offer to make dinner for the crew. Remember the culinary skills comment I made earlier. If you cook dinner, clean up after yourself and be the first with your hands in the suds.
Remember to listen to the Company Officer about what your limitations are on emergency responses. Sometimes, you will be allowed to take vitals or retrieve equipment. That is where taking the time to know our equipment will come in handy. You don’t want to have to look in every compartment to find a cervical collar.
Last of all enjoy the experience. We like sharing our knowledge with candidates who are trying to get to where we already are. Please show enthusiasm with everything that you do during your ride-a-long and you won’t be disappointed.
The next part of this series will cover background investigations. If you have any specific questions regarding this topic, please feel free to email me at

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