Adventure Philanthropist Video: Be a Volunteer Firefighter!

Some astounding facts:

  • Every 23 seconds, somewhere in the U.S. firefighters are responding to a call.
  • More than 250,000 individuals are volunteer firefighters
  • Three-quarters of all U.S. firefighters are volunteers.
  • Two-thirds of all fire department are run by volunteers

I had no idea that our fire services are overwhelmingly volunteers until my friend Ken told me.

Here he tells us more about why he became a volunteer firefighter with the Ferndale Fire Department, in Flathead County, Montana:

Can’t see the video? Click on this link: Ken, the Volunteer Firefighter

Dying Embers

Volunteer firefighting is a long-running institution, dating back to the time of Ben Franklin. Unfortunately, the leagues of volunteers are sharply declining. For instance, Pennsylvania had 300,000 volunteers in the 1980s and is down to 72,000. New York state, which had 140,000 in the 1990s, now has 96,000.

Many cite a time-crunch for the decline in volunteering. Too many people are working longer hours at their jobs and with a longer commute. Others point to the increased training that is now mandatory. Many fire departments require at least 100 hours of initial instruction, as well as weekly drills and annual refresher courses.

With a dearth of recruits, “volunteer” firefighters might be a dying breed. More fire departments are looking at either paying volunteers a fee for each call, providing a small monthly stipend, or compensating volunteers by paying for insurance.

Local governments consider these monetary incentives a small investment for an estimated $37 billion in services that volunteer firefighters provide each year. What do you think: Should communities start compensating their volunteer firefighters?

Ride on a Fire Truck Today!

Want to be a volunteer firefighter? Here’s how:

  • Be willing to make a long-term commitment. To help you make an informed decision, check out what volunteer firefighters are saying on this forum
  • Identify your local fire agency. Here’s a directory of local fire stations by state and city
  • Contact the station manager. Many times, fire captain will let you ride along on a few calls to determine if you’re a good fit for the department.
  • Complete the application process. Here’s a listing of all open volunteer fire fighter positions
  • Enter the training program. Be prepared to complete more than 110 hours of training.

Interested in other types of local community volunteering? Check out:

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 5th, 2012 and is filed under Adventure Philanthropists.

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