How To Become a Volunteer Firefighter

Volunteering for various kinds of community services is a noble and satisfying endeavor, and this is very true of the thousands of volunteer firefighters across America! Local or state government budgets are always limited, and usually civic authorities can hire very few full-time firefighters. Imagine what could happen if no one came forward to volunteer as firefighters? Only one word comes to mind – disaster with a capital D! Indeed, much of the credit for timeliness of response and expertise in fighting fires demonstrated across the country is thanks to all those who volunteer to become firefighters. If you are also interested in joining this elite band of selfless souls, here’s how…

  • Contact the local fire department nearest to your place of residence or work and offer your services.
  • Find out the eligibility and training requirements applicable in the local jurisdiction (may differ from state to state).
  • Have a very clear understanding of the nature of the work, number of hours to be spent on-duty and in training and the effort and endurance levels required to handle this dangerous job. Become a volunteer firefighter only if you’re sure that you can provide the dedication and commitment required.

Skills and abilities

As a volunteer firefighter, you must be in excellent physical shape and have good endurance levels. While specific requirements may not be uniform across all states, some across-the-board common requirements are listed below:

  1. You must be 18 years of age or older and a legal resident of the US;
  2. Hold a valid driver’s license with a clean and safe driving record;
  3. Completed a high school diploma or GED equivalent;
  4. Pass an extensive background check and a complete physical check-up;
  5. Pass the prescribed field tests – lifting, dragging or carrying specifically prescribed weights (between 70-180 lbs based on the activity), run and crawl through narrow and confined spaces wearing full firefighting gear, etc.
  6. Appear for and clear a personal interview.

According to the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), an organization which deals with volunteer rescue, fire and emergency response services, volunteer firefighters must comply with the minimum training standards prescribed for professional firefighters under the NFPA (federal) regulations or equivalent state mandates.

The National Fire Protection Act requires that all firefighters must clear a 110-hour NFPA-certified course as the basic minimum training requirements. Additional information on training and preparation programs for volunteer firefighters can be found from the respective states’ fire services departments.


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