Being a volunteer emergency responder is a rewarding experience and an extraordinary way to serve your community. It takes dedication, sacrifice, leadership, and mental/physical stamina.
Approximately 12 million Florida citizens depend on volunteer firefighters to protect their community. To keep these residents safe, it's critical that individuals volunteer for local departments. More than 315 departments throughout Florida utilize volunteers to sustain operations.
If you're interested in becoming one of the 6,000 volunteer emergency responders in Florida, please submit a volunteer application form and a representative from your area will contact you about the local volunteer program.
Florida Fire Chiefs' Association
Since 1958, the Florida Fire Chiefs' Association (FFCA) has served career, combination, and volunteer departments by advancing the profession of fire and emergency services through proactive leadership, education, and advocacy. FFCA responds to the needs of its 2,200 members, which includes addressing the problem of volunteer firefighter recruitment and retention.
FFCA supports the Volunteer Fire Officers Section. The section is comprised of 33 volunteer fire departments and brings together volunteer fire officers for the purpose of recruitment, retention, and promotion of the volunteer fire service; and to enhance the goals and objectives of FFCA. FFCA also represents the state of Florida on the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) Board.
Emergency calls throughout Florida continue to rise, but the number of volunteer firefighters has steadily declined in the past 20 years. In an effort to reverse this declining trend, the Department of Homeland Security, through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has awarded FFCA a SAFER grant.
The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant was created to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations in order to help them increase the number of trained, front line firefighters available in their communities. The goal of the SAFER grant is to enhance local fire departments' abilities to comply with staffing, response and operational standards established by the NFPA and OSHA.
In 2011, FFCA received a SAFER grant to assist fire departments throughout the state. The grant program strives to educate the public about the need for volunteer firefighters through a marketing campaign. The integrated campaign consists of television commercials, print advertisements, and online advertising. The grant program has also provided a means to submit information for those who are interested in volunteering.
To learn more about FFCA, please click here.
Although local governments and departments establish different selection criteria, most departments require that volunteers:
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Have a valid driver's license
- Live in close proximity to the fire district
- Have a clean criminal record
- Complete a medical examination
- Complete basic fire & EMS training (Firefighter Part I certificate, 206 hours)
- Meet the minimum ongoing training requirements
- Respond to a certain percentage of calls
Time requirements vary by department. Time commitment will depend on several factors, such as the number of calls the department receives, training requirements, shift versus on-call structure, and community activities in which the department requires volunteers to participate.
Volunteer departments prefer that volunteers have the ability to respond to calls 24 hours a day, although most departments accept volunteers who are unable to leave work or have other obligations.
Typically, departments pay for training and firefighting equipment. Volunteer firefighting is an unpaid position; however, some departments may provide stipends or reimburse volunteers for certain expenses.
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