Volunteer firefighters are brave individuals who assist in putting out fires. Despite being recruited volunteers, they must still go through extensive training and many sometimes obtain emergency medical technician certification as well.
Requirements for becoming a volunteer firefighter vary by fire department. Most departments require firefighters to be 18 years of age or older and hold a high school diploma or the equivalent. Candidates are generally required to pass written and physical exams, drug screenings and background checks. Some departments may require volunteer firefighters to hold a valid driver’s license and live within a department’s service area.
If you are interested – the Freeport Fire Department is looking for new members. You can visit their website to learn more:
- River Rescue
- Fire Police
- Junior Program
- Social Program
After being recruited, new volunteer firefighters typically enter department-run training academies or similar programs. According to VolunteerFD.org, firefighters are required to complete at least 110 hours of training in programs certified by the National Fire Protection Association. Training programs are comprised of both practical application and in-class instruction. Trainees learn to handle various rescue tools, such as extinguishers, axes and ladders. Along with firefighting techniques, they’re instructed in preventing fires, handling hazardous materials and performing emergency medical procedures.
Firefighters continue training in their departments after graduating from training academies and are typically subject to probationary periods. Many firefighters participate in apprenticeship programs. Apprenticeships can take up to four years to complete and provide trainees with hands-on experience under the supervision of skilled fire protection professionals.
Volunteer firefighters only need a high school diploma; however, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that a growing number of firefighters have completed some postsecondary coursework (www.bls.gov). Volunteer firefighters may be more likely to advance to a paid position if they hold an undergraduate degree in fire science or fire safety engineering. Associate’s degree programs in fire science typically take two years to complete and are geared toward firefighters seeking advancement in the occupation. Courses may cover arson investigation, protection systems, prevention, firefighting strategies, building construction and hazardous materials.
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