Local Field Trip: Fire Station

Firefighters hold a powerful mystique for many children. A trip to a local fire station can therefore be both exciting and educational, but there are several things to caution your child about before you go.

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Before You Go

The first step in planning a field trip to a local fire station is to contact a station in your town to see if they perform tours. Many do, but a fire station is not the type of place where you can typically arrive without scheduling a visit first. You may find that only certain stations in your local area allow visitors and it may not be the one closest to your home.

Even with a scheduled visit, warn your child that firefighters are always at the mercy of an emergency call. You may arrive for your visit only to find the firefighters out on a call. If this happens, you'll likely need to reschedule.

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Finally, it's also essential to warn your child that firefighters sometimes wear masks and other special equipment that may be scary. Remind your child that if a firefighter at the station you visit is dressed this way, it's only a person wearing firefighting clothes. It may help to discuss the purpose of potentially scary equipment; for example, describe how a gas mask helps firefighters breathe in smoke-filled spaces.

Teaching Moments at the Site

While touring a fire station, your child can learn about the different types of trucks firefighters use, including pumper trucks and ladder trucks. A firefighter may explain how the many tools that are stored on different trucks are used in fighting fires. Your child may also get to see the special clothes firefighters wear, including their heavy jackets, helmets and boots. In some cases, your child will be able to try on this equipment.

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Some fire stations have a pole that enables firefighters to hurry from an upper level to the ground floor when an emergency arises. On some tours, your child may be able to try out the pole, though not every station allows this for safety reasons. Also, at some stations, your child may be able to try spraying water with a fire hose as a firefighter helps. What types of activities you'll be able to participate in will vary, so prepare your child for the possibility that not all of these opportunities will necessarily be possible.

After Your Visit

After visiting your local fire station, have your child keep an eye out for different types of fire trucks around your town. See if he or she can identify them and recall what role they play in fighting fires. In addition to spotting trucks driving around town, look for trucks being cleaned outside firehouses. You may also have your child draw pictures of what he or she saw and learned about at the fire station. This will help your child to retain the memories of this special trip.

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