Are you looking for a thrilling way to contribute to your community in your spare time? Serving as a volunteer firefighter can be a rewarding, fulfilling way to serve your community. You can serve in a band of comrades, help keep the community safe and even save lives.
However, being a volunteer firefighter is a really big commitment. It will require training, stamina and long nights on call. If you are thinking about becoming a volunteer firefighter, here are some things to think about.
Fire departments have a minimum age requirement to serve with them. This will vary depending on which department you want to work with, but generally you have to be a legal adult, which means over 21 years old. Some departments may require you to be even older. However, some departments have a “junior firefighter” program, where you can ride along in the fire truck and observe.
Are you in good physical condition?
Volunteer fire departments have tough physical condition requirements. You will have to pass a series of tests that will look at strength and stamina. The job also requires you to be physically fit, able to lift heavy things, climb a latter and move quickly.
How much free time do you have?
Since this is a volunteer position, there won’t be any payment. However, you may be able to get a tax refund or reimbursement for expenses on the job. There is also a minimum hourly requirement, sometimes upwards of twenty hours per week or more, but this will depend on a number of factors, such as your area, the number of volunteers and the rules of the department.
Can I become a career firefighter after volunteering?
Actually, if you are looking to build a career as a firefighter, then volunteering is a great place to start. You can work toward passing all of the tests, get training on the job, and rack up some experience. You’ll also be able to build contacts within the firefighting community who will be able to inform you if there is a full-time staff position.
Becoming a Volunteer Firefighter: The Next Steps
If you feel that volunteering as a firefighter is right for you, then your first step is to contact your local fire department. Since each department is different, you will need to directly ask about the rules and requirements for volunteers.
The next step is to get in shape. Learn about the requirements for your fitness test and train accordingly. Go on regular runs, do strength exercises, or even work with a personal trainer to make sure you reach the objectives. You may also have to work to shed a few extra pounds if you’re over the weight limit.
Once you have scheduled and passed your fitness test, you will need to begin your training. All volunteer firefighters have to complete 110 hours of NFPA certification. You may also need additional training, depending on your department. Some volunteer firefighters also opt to get EMT certification along with their NFPA certification, so that they can assist in a medical emergency. When you have finished your training and passed your exams, you can get fitted for gear, get your personal radio, and get ready to start saving lives!