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So You Want to Visit the Fire Department

When my boys want to visit the Fire Department, we just get in the truck and visit FireDad at work. My guess is that you are not married to a fire fighter and you therefore assume your children don’t have immediate access to the gleaming red trucks. You’re probably right on the immediate access part but don’t mope around just yet. You, too, can visit your local Fire Department with your children, snap a few memories and learn a few things in the process.

First of all, ask yourself a few questions: Does the Fire Department come to your child’s school? Are there other opportunities for your child to see, touch and hear these fire trucks? Girl and Boy Scout troops often take trips to visit the Fire Department. Before you set up your own private tour, figure out if they’re going there next Tuesday. Too much Big Red Fire Truck can overwhelm a child.

Now, onto the process.

1. PICK UP YOUR PHONE. I know. I hate the phone, too. I don’t even like to call for pizza and, man, I love pizza. But even if your local department has a website, you’re going to get the most information and schedule the best time for all involved by employing the use of the archaic telephone. I have, in the past, schedule a visit entirely by email (for FireDad to visit a New York Fire House as an anniversary present, see picture to the left) but, trust me, it works better for all involved if you just pick up the phone.

1a. Ask if they give small family tours. While most will, it will behoove you to realize that some do not. If yours doesn’t, consider calling one town over or even to the nearest “big city.” Realize that Volunteer Fire Departments don’t always have a fire fighter on site and, at the same time, professional departments have a long list of other tasks that must be accomplished during the day.

1b. If they do, ask what time is good for them. Yes. You’re busy. You are! Look at all that laundry you have sitting, just waiting for you to actually get up from the computer and toss it in the washer. (Oh wait, that’s just me.) But so are the fire fighters. As an example, tours are often offered after 5:00 in the evening at our department. After you ask what time is good, find a date that works for you both and set it up.

2. Prepare your children. Tell them that they will need to listen to the fire fighter, ask appropriate questions and to ask the fire fighter before they touch anything. Also, tell yourself that ahead of times as well. Because, oh, the big shiny buttons.

3. Realize that fires are unpredictable. If they were predictable, FireDad probably wouldn’t have had to fight a fire the night before our wedding or on every major holiday since joining the department or birthday or days off or… the list goes on. If you arrive at the fire department and find that no trucks are present, you’re going to have to reschedule your tour. And you’re going to have some pretty upset children. (No doubt, you’re going to be pretty bummed as well.) Trust me on this one: treat them to something that they don’t normally get. Whether that’s ice cream, a late night movie or an impromptu trip to Grandma’s, just do it. Explain that the fire fighters are helping other people by fighting a fire and promise to reschedule. Oh, and then you’ll have to pick up the phone again later in the evening or tomorrow. Sigh. I know. Phones.

4. Take something to the fire fighters. Brownies are always a big hit! Any snack will do. Realize that these guys work up quite an appetite at times and would surely love something to munch on in between blazes. That said, recruit your children to help make the brownies (or whatever you decide upon). They’ll feel proud when they hand over the plate.

5. And don’t forget the Thank You note afterwards. The fire fighters won’t care if they don’t receive one. But it’s an important lesson for little ones to learn. Let them draw on a blank card and translate whatever they want to write if they’re not yet of writing age. Include a translation of your own if they are of writing age and it’s not quite coherent.

6. Last but not least: Don’t forget your camera when you go! You’ll want these memories. Trust me.

Have you visited your local Fire Department lately? What was your experience like? Were you as excited as your children? You know, despite taking the boys there almost once a week for just about four years now, I still get excited when I see the Shiny Red Trucks. There’s just something about them that’s awe inspiring and fun.

Oh, and ten bucks says if you ask one of the fire fighters, whom you just handed some brownies, to take a picture of you with your kiddos, they most certainly will… but don’t blame me if they get brownie fingerprints on your camera!

5 replies on “So You Want to Visit the Fire Department”

oddly enough, I was going to email you to ask you about this just today! Seriously! My kids probably won’t ask questions… will it be awkward? Just the 4 of us? Do they run the sirens for the kids? (So I can prepare Simon for the loudness.)

They can totally run the sirens if you ask them to but if it will bother Simon, go without. They can turn on lights without sirens. It won’t be awkward if you can manage not to let it be. (I know you; you’re like me.) In short: be yourself, ask them to show the kids a few buttons that they CAN press and snapsnapsnap pictures.

We live really close to our fire department so anytime we go anywhere kidlet always wants to see if the garage doors are open so he can see the trucks! He keeps asking if we can go see the firemen and their trucks and I keep coming up with excuses (because I wasn’t armed with the knowledge you gave me). Although, with point #1, my MOMS Club is hosting a truck day this week so we should be able to see one there!

Thanks for a great post FireMom!

Jessicas last blog post..Help Me Choose My New Head Shot!

My two-year-old LOVES the firestation. At Grandpa’s national service medal award, he got to climb all over four different trucks that were “Christened” that day (think: chaplain’s blessing+full napsack of water+ enthusiastic fireman) and he thought it was heaven (apparently the trucks did too?).

Then the board (we’re Aussie and have a dual bushfire/metro system over here) came to visit daycare. And he was terrified.

For those thinking of it, it’s probably worth remembering that even kiddos who love the big red trucks, who are familiar with the big red trucks can have a bad day. Especially if they were expecting Grandpa and Uncle to get off said trucks :)

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