One of the most satisfying and altruistic choices you can make is to volunteer as a firefighter. Volunteer firemen fight fires, put them out, and provide first aid in their communities.
Volunteer firefighters now make up 55 percent among all current firefighters, making it an excellent initial step toward becoming a paid firefighter.
Continue reading to learn more about what is needed to perform this critical position and how you can start making a difference right away.
What Do You Need To Become A Volunteer Firefighter?
Volunteer firefighter requirements differ depending on the fire department. Firefighters in most departments must be at least 18 years old and have a high school education or equivalent.
After being recruited and completing a minimum of 110 hours of training, volunteer firefighters help professional firefighters. Many agencies also demand that firefighters have EMT certification.
While volunteer firefighters are not required to have any formal education beyond a high school degree or equivalent, having an undergraduate education in firefighting science or fire safety engineering can increase your chances of becoming a paid firefighter.
An increasing number of firemen have also completed some postsecondary education.
Volunteer firefighters with an undergraduate degree in fire safety engineering or fire science are more likely to transition to paid positions.
Associate's degree programs in fire science normally last two years and are designed for firefighters who want to improve in their careers.
Arson investigation, protective systems, prevention, firefighting methods, building construction, and hazardous materials may all be covered in these courses.
What Does Volunteer Firefighter Training Involve?
New volunteer firefighters generally enroll in department training schools or related programs after being recruited.
Firefighters in the United States must finish at least 110 hours of training in National Fire Protection Association-approved programs.
Candidates must complete written and physical tests, as well as drug tests and background investigations.
Volunteer firefighters in some departments may be required to hold a valid driver's license and live within the department's service area.
Many organizations choose candidates who can demonstrate good decision-making abilities, dependability, and boldness.
Practical application and classroom learning are both included in training programs. Extinguishers, axes, and ladders are among the instruments that trainees learn to use.
They learn how to prevent fires, handle hazardous chemicals, and perform emergency medical treatments in addition to firefighting techniques.
After graduation from training academies, firefighters continue their training in respective departments and are often subject to probationary terms.
Apprenticeship programs are popular among firefighters. Apprenticeships can last up to four years and give students practical experience while being supervised by a mentor.
Steps To Becoming A Volunteer Firefighter
1. Think About What It Takes To Be A Volunteer Firefighter
Before you commit to become a volunteer firefighter, think about whether you can handle the responsibilities.
Make sure you're passionate about the mission of firefighters and that you're prepared to face the obstacles that come with the profession.
To finish your training and role, you may have to sacrifice part of your leisure time. You may also be required to be on-call, this means you must be prepared to respond to emergencies right away.
It's crucial to assess whether you can afford to volunteer without receiving compensation.
Determine if you're in the correct physical shape to execute firefighting jobs because many of the activities of firefighters require carrying large items, like equipment and even people.
Firefighters must maintain good physical condition, which includes eating good foods, exercising, and avoiding harmful habits.
Consider if you have the mental capacity to remain cool and handle stress in a pressure packed environment. Firefighters must be skilled in assisting those who are afraid or grieving.
2. Contact A Local Fire Department
To learn more about the role of a firefighter and the steps to becoming one, consult your local fire department. Make sure you dial the non-emergency number.
Prepare a short list of questions to send to the department's fire chief or volunteer manager through phone or email.
Knowing the answers to such questions will help you determine whether you are eligible to volunteer as a firefighter.
Some departments impose residence requirements on its volunteers, requiring them to reside in the department's area.
You can also determine if you are willing to work a certain amount of unpaid hours per week by learning about the position's time commitments.
If your local department allows it, you may be welcome to look around the fire station to learn more about it.
3. Complete An Application
After you've decided which fire department you'd like to volunteer with, look over their website and talk to their volunteer coordinator to find out how to apply.
While the application process varies by agency, city, and state, it normally entails completing a form as well as various forms of identification.
4. Pass The Screening
Before becoming a volunteer firefighter, you must usually go through a screening process and interview after submitting an application.
A background check, physical test, medical examination, medical evaluation, and drug tests are frequently part of this process.
5. Complete The Training
You can gain and develop the skills and information needed to manage emergency situations by completing training.
Instructions about how to extinguish flames and offer first aid are provided by fire departments.
Attending conferences, observing more advanced experts, and reading reference materials can help volunteer firefighters learn more.
They can often obtain the greatest practical experience on the job by answering real-life emergency calls and following their supervisors' instructions.
Volunteers are frequently required to participate in ongoing training to review safety protocols and stay current with industry changes.
Becoming a volunteer firefighter is one of the most rewarding choices you can make.
However, you’ll need to make sure that you have both the mental and physical capabilities to deal with the challenges of firefighting, meet the minimum requirements, pass screening and complete training.
You also need to decide whether you can afford to work without pay.
If you follow the steps above, you can successfully become a volunteer firefighter - and maybe even a paid firefighter in the future.