How to Become a Volunteer Firefighter - Requirements, Training and Salary (2024)

How to Become a Volunteer Firefighter – Requirements, Training and Salary

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How to Become a Volunteer Firefighter - Requirements, Training and Salary (1)

Volunteer firefighters are the backbone of the firefighting industry, and it is evident from the statistics of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), which states that approximately 70% of the firefighters in the United States serve in a volunteer role, and becoming a volunteer firefighter is a big commitment.

The lives of volunteer firefighters are gratifying as they get an opportunity to contribute to society, but at the same time, it’s challenging as well. Though they have to serve the minimum required hours, these hours are decided by the fire department based on emergencies. They can be called out during weekends, holidays, and at any time of the day or night. Sometimes, these professionals have to spend an extended period in inclement weather. While working during emergencies, they perform physically exhausting activities too.

Want to know other aspects of becoming a volunteer firefighter? Read on!

How to Join Volunteer Fire Department?

1. Touch Base with your Local Fire Department

Each state in the United States has its fire department, but all fire departments may not necessarily have their website. You can also visit the nearest fire station or the National Volunteer Firefighter Council and put across your interest in becoming a volunteer firefighter. If the fire department of your state has its website, spend some time in searching for addresses and finding email contacts on the internet, call them or write an email expressing your interest in volunteer firefighting. While contacting the fire department, ensure that you call on the non-emergency number because the emergency number is generally reserved for fires. A non-urgent call would not be appreciated on that number.

2. Enquire if the Fire Department has Vacancy

Not all fire stations/departments have the vacancy for volunteer firefighters. Therefore, ask if they have firefighting roles. If there is no vacancy, enquire if they have any waiting list. You can ask them to contact you when they need volunteer firefighters.

3. Meet All the Requirements and Apply

Each fire department has its own set of requirements that every aspirant needs to fulfill. Check your local fire station requirements and apply by filling out their application form if you fit in their criteria.

4. Clear the Interview

The fire station takes some time to review your application. If your application gets accepted, you will be called for an interview. If you clear the interview, you will have to pass a physical exam to appear for training.

How Long is Volunteer Firefighter Training?

All volunteer firefighters are supposed to complete a minimum of 110 hours of training from a program accredited by the National Fire Protection Association. You can take up additional training if you want to stay updated with the latest technologies.

Volunteer Firefighter Requirements

Below are some basic requirements that aspirants must fulfill to become a volunteer firefighter:

  • The age of the aspirant must not be less than 18 years
  • The candidate should hold a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Pass background checks, drug screenings, physical and written examination
  • The candidate must have a valid driver’s license
  • Some fire agencies require aspirants to have EMT certification
  • Strong physical stamina is another essential requisite
  • Complete at least 110 hours of firefighting training from the NFPA certified program

Skills Required

  • Strong decision making
  • Problem solving
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Emotional stability
  • Team player
  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Integrity and tolerance

Volunteer Firefighter Training

Newly recruited volunteer firefighters undergo training sessions conducted by the fire department. The training program introduces you with the in and outs of becoming a firefighter and also pushes you physically and mentally.

The training program consists of in-class instructions and practical application. During training, trainees learn to operate axes, fire extinguishers, and other rescue tools. They are also trained to perform emergency medical procedures, handle hazardous material, and prevent fires. The hands-on practical training is supervised by skilled and experienced fire protection professionals. You learn to deal with various situations, including wildland fire, structural fire, fire attack, emergency medical responses, etc.

Duties of a Volunteer Firefighter

A volunteer firefighter carries out the same functions as performed by a career firefighter; however, some responsibilities may vary from town to town and state to state. The tasks performed by volunteer firefighters are challenging and require a thorough understanding of first aid methods, operational techniques, and firefighting procedures. The job description of volunteer firemen includes both emergency and non-emergency tasks.

Emergency Tasks

  • Carrying fire hoses up ladders or stairs
  • Driving fire trucks to the scene
  • Responding to hazardous materials incidents
  • Dragging water lines and suppressing the fire
  • Rescuing victims from buildings or cars
  • Providing first aid, including wound care, mouth-to-mouth breathing, and CPR

Non-Emergency Tasks

  • Giving firehouse tours
  • Maintaining emergency vehicles and building facilities
  • Cleaning up the accident or fire scene to prevent further damage
  • Assisting the career staff in updating the map book for new complexes, additions, and streets for use in emergencies
  • Supporting the career staff in organizing education classes to generate awareness about fire safety
  • Submitting a replacement request for damaged equipment
  • Attending weekly/monthly training sessions

Perks of Becoming a Volunteer Firefighter

Wondering what the benefits of rendering volunteer fire services are? Get to know here!

1. Rigorous Training

If you opt to work as a volunteer firefighter, you get extensive training that helps you succeed not only in your career but also in your personal life. Some of the areas in which training is provided include fire investigation, hazardous materials, firefighting and rescue skills, wildland fire awareness, operating the fire apparatus, conflict resolution, etc.

2. Valuable Experience

Working in the role of volunteer firefighter at a local fire department gives you tremendous exposure and work experience, and serve as a stepping stone to become a career firefighter. You get the opportunity to perform almost all the duties and responsibilities of a career firefighter.

3. Career Growth

While hiring career firefighters, most of the fire stations give preference to those candidates who have rendered services as volunteer firefighters and performed well as a contributor and team member in the situations of fires and emergencies.

4. Work-Life Balance

As a volunteer firefighter, you are expected to complete minimum monthly hour requirements set by the fire station. Since you have control over your level of commitment and involvement, you can better strike a balance between your personal and professional life. However, you can take on extra shifts if you want.

5. Strong Professional Networks

Volunteer firefighting gives you an opportunity to expand and strengthen your professional network. This helps you seek a career recommendation or a professional reference whenever required.

6. Sense of Pride

You earn respect from the members of your community as you work for their welfare and safety. Moreover, you bring a difference in the lives of the people with your volunteer fire services, and this accomplishment gives you a sense of satisfaction and pride.

Do Volunteer Firefighters Get Paid?

What is the volunteer firefighter pay in California, Ohio, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York and other states of the US? This is the big question that comes to mind before joining the volunteer fire department near you. It is important to know that most of the fire stations/departments do not pay for the services of a volunteer firefighter. However, they may get reimbursed for attending training and meetings, responding to fires and emergencies, and time spent on shifts. The amount of reimbursem*nt is generally at the discretion of the fire department. Some fire service departments provide insurance programs, tax deductions, and education assistance to volunteer firefighters.

Jobs and Career Prospects

Volunteer firefighters play an essential role in the fire industry and are in demand to deal with the increasing cases of fires and medical emergencies. The job prospects for these professionals seem to be good; however, physically fit candidates with some firefighter education will be the first preference of the employers.

On the basis of the performance, volunteer firefighters can be recruited as a career firefighter. Volunteer firefighters can gain higher education and apply for career firefighter in the same fire department in which they are working, or in another fire department of a different state.

Related links :-

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How to Become a Volunteer Firefighter - Requirements, Training and Salary (2024)


How do I become fit enough to be a firefighter? ›

  1. GETUPS: Total body agility. Start on hands and knees. ...
  2. CABLE/BAND PULLS: Trains the pulling system: grip, forearm, biceps, back muscles. ...
  3. PUSHUPS: Great for developing core stability, wrist flexibility, upper body muscle. ...
  4. STEPUPS. Useful in developing lower body strength, balance, stability, and power.

How have you prepared to be a firefighter? ›

In no specific order, here are 10 must-do things every firefighter candidate should be doing to increase their odds of getting hired.
  1. Become an EMT. ...
  2. Volunteer your time. ...
  3. Take fire technology classes. ...
  4. Maintain a clean background and lifestyle. ...
  5. Understand all of the phases of the firefighter hiring process.
Apr 15, 2024

Do volunteer firefighters get paid in MN? ›

As of Apr 15, 2024, the average hourly pay for a Volunteer Firefighter in Minnesota is $17.63 an hour. While ZipRecruiter is seeing salaries as high as $26.84 and as low as $8.48, the majority of Volunteer Firefighter salaries currently range between $15.77 (25th percentile) to $20.96 (75th percentile) in Minnesota.

How to become a Volunteer Firefighter in California? ›

Must successfully complete a comprehensive background investigation. Must successfully complete the Volunteer Academy and a six (6) month probationary period. Successful completion of the six (6) month probationary period will include required skills completion, documented via the Volunteer Firefighter Taskbook.

Is 21 too old to be a firefighter? ›

Here are a few basic requirements needed for individuals to become a firefighter in California: Be at least 18 years old to become a seasonal and temporary classification firefighter. Be at least 21 years of age to obtain a permanent firefighter position. Be a United States citizen.

How good of shape do you need to be in to be a firefighter? ›

These folks need great balance, strength and endurance — all of which are vital qualities needed to perform required tasks, including: Lifting patients and heavy equipment. Moving quickly and dexterously. Climbing stairs and crouching.

How to pass a firefighter interview? ›

7 tips for passing the firefighter oral board
  1. Know the job. Understand what it means to be a firefighter, beyond the surface level. ...
  2. Do your homework. ...
  3. Focus on the process you are in, not what's next. ...
  4. Know yourself. ...
  5. You are being evaluated from start to finish. ...
  6. It's not only what you say but also how you say it. ...
  7. Finish strong.
Dec 11, 2023

What math do firefighters use? ›

Firefighters use mathematics to perform hydraulic calculations. Therefore, a strong foundation in mathematics is necessary for the job. Advanced math such as algebra and geometry have proven to be helpful.

What skills do you need to be a firefighter? ›

A Firefighter must have good judgment, good communication skills, demonstrate mechanical aptitude, basic math skills, and ability to understand and learn firefighting material.

Do volunteer firefighters get paid in us? ›

Under the FLSA, volunteer firefighters can never receive hourly pay. This requirement falls well short of establishing a complete ban on payments, however. The city or town can pay the firefighters a nominal fee as well as expense reimbursem*nts and some reasonable benefits, and payments are taxable income.

Who pays the most for firefighters? ›

Best-Paying States for Firefighters

The states and districts that pay Firefighters the highest mean salary are California ($78,350), New Jersey ($77,740), Washington ($76,930), New York ($73,520), and Hawaii ($72,880). How Much Do Firefighters Make in Your City? See current salary offers for jobs in your field.

Are most firefighters in the US paid or volunteer? ›

Of the more than one-million firefighters in the US, 65% of them are volunteers, according to data from the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC). Of the more than 29,000 fire departments across the country, almost 19,000 of them are run completely by volunteers.

How do I become a local volunteer firefighter? ›

How to become a volunteer firefighter
  1. Consider the commitment of being a volunteer firefighter. ...
  2. Contact your local fire department. ...
  3. Fulfill the minimum requirements. ...
  4. Complete the application process. ...
  5. Pass the screening process. ...
  6. Complete training. ...
  7. Pursue further education.
Mar 10, 2023

How long is the Cal fire Academy? ›

The Fire Academy is a 540-hour program conducted on consecutive weekends, 10 hours each Saturday & Sunday and 4 hours each weeknight per month. Provides basic firefighter skills & knowledge with the emphasis on "hands on" skills development.

What is called a firefighter? ›

someone whose job is to stop fires and to save people and property from being harmed. (Definition of firefighter from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

What is the best body type for a firefighter? ›

A lean, strong body coupled with excellent aerobic capacity is the ideal for a firefighter.

What are the odds of becoming a firefighter? ›

Successfully completing all phases of the hiring process and getting the badge is a feat to be proud of. I would venture that on the average, less than 5% of the candidates applying for a firefighter position with a department are likely to get a badge once the process is said and done.

Is being a firefighter hard on your body? ›

Firefighters risk their lives responding to emergencies, but they also jeopardize their long-term health through exposure to toxic chemicals and other occupational hazards. As a result, firefighters are at increased risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease and other health conditions.

How many calories should a firefighter eat? ›

Wildland firefighters on the fireline need 4,000 to 6,000 calories a day to avoid an energy deficit.

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