About being a volunteer firefighter
The volunteer emergency service is an extremely valuable national resource, protecting neighbors and saving taxpayers money. Although call volume has increased and responsibilities continue to grow for volunteer departments, volunteerism has declined by 10 percent in the past 20 years.
It's important to keep in mind that there are only 3 viable options for communities which would like to maintain emergency response services:
1. Recruit and retain volunteer firefighters.
2. Utilize both volunteers and career firefighters to sustain a combination fire department.
3. Hire and employ career firefighters only.
In most communities across the US, recruiting and retaining volunteers is the only option to maintain emergency response services because of financial limitations.
Volunteer emergency responders make up 73% of the fire service throughout the US. Most departments in rural America are fully supported by volunteers or are a blend of volunteers and career firefighters, known as a combination department. Even as a volunteer service, departments continue to evolve and adhere to the high level of professionalism that community members expect. Although many community members don't even realize they are supported by a volunteer department, it is more than likely that it's a volunteer responding to an emergency, day or night, rain or shine.
Volunteering allows you to give back to the community by protecting your friends, family and neighbors. Today, there is much competition for your time and becoming a volunteer emergency responder is certainly time and energy intensive. Likely, you can find many reasons not to volunteer. However, if you have a sense of civic pride, if you want to see immediate results of a job well done, if you have the heart and spirit to make your community a better place, consider volunteering with your local fire or EMS department.