How To Become a Volunteer Firefighter

Volunteer work alone is usually satisfying and morally rewarding.  Volunteering your time as a firefighter is different, but in a good way.  You not only get the satisfaction of helping people and the feel-good moral confidence boost, but you also get the opportunity to network and meet with people that could significantly impact the outcome of your career.  To qualify for volunteer firefighter work, most states will usually require that you attend the same recruit specific training that you would attend while getting your Firefighter I certification.  It is usually slightly less time intensive, and becoming a volunteer firefighter will let you get some much needed time around the station and becoming acclimated to the firefighter lifestyle.  The volunteer firefighting experience will also help you figure out if firefighting is really the career you want to make your full time focus.  Once you become a volunteer firefighter, there are a lot of resources you have at our disposal that will help you further advance your career.  There are also Junior Firefighter or “Cadet” programs for High School aged aspiring firefighters, which are completely separate from typical volunteer firefighter work, but are just as rewarding.

The minimum Volunteer Firefighter Requirements you will need to meet are:

  • Typically you will need to be at least 18 years of age.
  • Own a valid operating driver’s license.
  • Pass a Federal Background Check (not required in all states).
  • You will usually need to reside near the area you will be serving as a volunteer.
  • Some states require you to have CPR certification prior to applying.
  • Complete and pass a physical exam.
  • Firefighter I Certification:  Most States will require you to have Firefighter I training or equivalent.  Some states do have specific volunteer firefighter training that are slightly less time intensive than firefighter I training courses.
  • Typically once firefighters are initiated into the volunteer training program, they will be required to serve in a 6 month probationary period.  During this time you need to make sure that you are following all directives and following all departmental protocols.

Once you are accepted as a volunteer firefighter, you will need to maintain ongoing course study as well as training exercises.  If you don’t complete these training exercises or maintain your needed training courses, you can be placed on probationary status or even removed from rotation as a volunteer.

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Below is a good general idea on what kind of training and duties you will need to maintain on a monthly basis:

  • Go on a certain number of emergency calls (varies by state)
  • Complete four hours of training per month to keep refreshed on current safety skills.
  • Help assist and maintain fire equipment at the fire house.
  • Help in outreach programs in local schools.

Now that we’ve covered the basic requirements that you need to become a volunteer firefighter, you should have a good idea what it takes to start that next step in your career.  Becoming a volunteer firefighter is extremely rewarding and takes guts.  You will have to go through the typical initiation process before your peer firefighters will actually trust you, but once they do, you will be treated like one of their own.  Volunteer Firefighters get great exposure and are able to build outstanding long lasting relationships that they might otherwise not be able to build if it weren’t for the volunteer program.  If you have the opportunity to participate in any volunteer firefighting program, I would strongly suggest that you find a way to include yourself and get involved.  Your future as a firefighter will only benefit from the friendships and networking opportunities you will be able to build once you are serving with your fellow brethren and sisters on the job.

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