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Should I Volunteer?

Discussion in 'Firefighter/EMS Talk' started by itgoesboom, Sep 4, 2005.

  1. itgoesboom


    Jun 15, 2002
    By the river
    I live in a pretty small town, which is served by a volunteer fire service.

    I have thought for years about doing something where I could give back to the community, once I was in a position where I could.

    I had even thought about joining a volunteer fire dept a few years back when we were looking at moving to a tiny town in Colorado, but we didn't move there after all.

    So is there anything I should consider before I do this? I have talked to one of the firefighters about it, and it sounds like something I could do.

    What do you think?

    What are the negatives about doing volunteer fire fighting?

  2. ClydeG19


    Oct 5, 2001
    The worst thing is internal politics and politics between depts. I would recommend going to the calls, doing your job, and not getting into the politics.

    I'm not really mechanically inclined, but I got to learn a lot about different tools and machines by joining, so you can learn a lot from it.

  3. DepChief

    DepChief Get Tous's Rope

    Nov 27, 2004
    Outer Banks, NC
    There are so many benefits to volunteering for your local fire dept. The friendships, the excitment, and being part of something where you make a difference. Depending on how busy the dept is and how active you are, one downside is that is does take you away from your family. I have been both volunteer and career, and I will tell you that volunteering is alot more fun! Give it a try, if you dont enjoy it, you can always get out.
  4. DCSO0322


    May 31, 2005
    Point of no return
    I have been on a volunteer fire/ambulance service for 12 years and the feeling of helping people is great and something not much else can even compare to. The feeling of family in the departments I have been on is also something that is hard to describe, it's like another family. The other members can help you in good times and bad they make a great support group. I have made some friends on the department that I would not trade for the world.
    Like Dep said it does take you away from family and sometimes going to work after a fire in the middle of the night is hard to do.

    It is something that you have to try out, some can do it some can't. Some love it and some decide that we are all crazy for doing what we do. If you want to try no one will look down on you for trying and deciding it's not for you if you don't like it.
  5. DaleGribble

    DaleGribble Sandwich!

    Mar 20, 2003
    Land of the toothless!
    In my job I get to work with volunteer fire departments all the time, so I feel like I can offer some insight.

    If you want to volunteer because you really want to help people, then by all means please do so. Your community needs people like you and the people you will be working with will appreciate your effort.

    If you just want to be the Ricky Rescue that thinks he's God's gift to humanity, please stay away because we won't like you and we won't want to have anything to do with you!

    I've seen both types and the difference between the two is like night and day! I actually feel relieved when I have the truly good firefighters on a scene with me. When I have the Ricky Rescue's on a scene with me I can't wait to get out of there!
  6. rebbryan

    rebbryan .40FireFighter

    If you're freaked out by stupid people and dead bodies, that's probably not good. It's fun IMO, learn a lot about tools, equipment, and politics ( ;g )
  7. itgoesboom


    Jun 15, 2002
    By the river

    Thats my thought. I have been fortunate so far in life, and would like to give something back. My wive doesn't want me to enlist in the military, and I know that the fire service has several openings right now.

    You mean like this? ;f


    Thanks everyone for the advice. I just want to make sure that I have at least a little idea of what I might be getting myself into here.

  8. April

    April Lifetime Member

    Aug 24, 2005
    Keeping the Asylum
    In short.. ABSOLUTELY!

    We recently moved to another state due to my husbands full-time firefighter job (he's a fed), but where we were he had risen to the rank of Deputy Fire Chief. VFDs are an excellent opportunity to help and support the community, make good friends and get some great training along the way.

    You'll find that most volly departments have department-wide training about once a month, maybe more. And I know our department had a mandatory "rookie" program once a week to get everybody up to speed. And you're almost always tapped to help w/ the town Halloween Party or a holiday parade.

    You'll eventually miss family gatherings, that "special dinner" and of course lots of sleep due to responding to calls. The best thing I know to say is to get your family involved, and if your wife is interested get her a scanner to listen to.

    I say absolutely apply and go through that process. But agree w/ the post above about "Ricky Rescue". Please don't be guy that decides to wear BDU or EMT pants bloused out of jungle boots with a mini mag light, a glove pouch, cpr mask, multi-tool, fire pager, radio and cell phone hanging off his velcro trouser belt and some sort of serrated 3" "rescue" tacticool knife clipped in his bocket. I almost forgot the mess of bandage scissors, EMT shears, forceps, medical tape, penlights and ink pens in the EMT thigh pocket! ;g

    Go in with a desire to learn. We recently ran a FF 1&2 course, so if you'd like some additional info, PM me.

    Always remember to watch your surroundings, stay low, stay safe and live to respond another day.

    For additional information about the Fire Service, browse around at

  9. rebbryan

    rebbryan .40FireFighter

    +1, Extra actually reported that he saved some people, they forgot to mention the ass monkey's boat leak ;a
  10. sudboy

    sudboy 733t beerXor

    May 9, 2003
    You have to want it, that I can say for sure. It is hard, but it's been worth it to me and I've been in it for almost three years. You get out of it precisely what you put into it.

  11. chiefb


    Dec 18, 2004
    I've done it for 20 years and I'm telling you DON'T DO IT

    Unless you want to:
    1) Have fun

    2) Learn ALOT of new and interesting stuff

    3) Learn about people (good & bad)

    4) Help your community

    5) Walk with your chin a little higher

    6) Everything they said in the above posts

    Do it and you will never regret it.

  12. newbirdhunter


    Jul 29, 2001
    No doubt in my mind that you should. I have been a volunteer in PD and FD and can tell you that it is very rewarding. You will meet and work with people with similar interests, you will help your community, and you will learn new and interesting skills. Mind you, the dedication must be there for this to work, and the training can be lengthy and trying, but at the end of the day, you will find it's all worth it.
  13. obxemt

    obxemt Chaplain of CT

    ...the backstabbing, the trashtalking, the politics, the town's stupidity... ;f ;f ;f
  14. Tvov


    Sep 30, 2000
    Similar to what obxemt posted... You will learn how bassackwards your local town actually works. Have you ever complained about abuses of the Federal Budget?? Look at your own town. It starts with your local town/city budget. A huge part of the education I got from joining my FD was the sobering learning of how my town works (more precisely, how it Doesn't work). Sadly, many of my fellow FFs don't help the process much (Okay, so exactly why does my FD need TWO $15,000 thermal cameras when our air packs are three different generations? Because the money was there!).

    Whoa there, I'm starting to sound like an "old-timer"!! (my wife, over my shoulder, "Starting?!"). Really, though, this was/is probably the biggest negative to me.

    Being a member of a VFD is an amazing experience. Excepting the above (!). Just wait until you show up at your first major structure fire, and watch the first crew vanish, crawling, into the black smoke pouring out the door. Be a part of your first extrication, ripping a car apart to get someone out and into the ambulance. Handing a stuffed animal to a child who just lived through a car accident. Being toned to a major fire as your Easter dinner is being served. And, of course, being yelled at by your Chief! As was explained to me later, if you aren't yelled at every once in awhile, you probably aren't doing anything!
  15. I have thought about volunteering in the past, too. This thread has made me want to look into it more. I have also thought about doing a ride-a-long with the local PD.

    Good thread!^c
  16. NCUrk

    NCUrk Shebha sees you

    Jul 5, 2004
    Havelock NC
    You are prepared to handle criticism from EVERYONE. (Not that that is a bad thing... But even the best calls can be done better... So learn from every call)
    Be prepared to be yelled at and called very vulgar and distasteful things... When people’s homes, families and loved ones are on the line... they tend to say some of the meanest things... Trust me on this.
    Be prepared for the politics. (I run both Career and Vollie). Both have politics. If you want to be more then a FF/EMT... You have to play the game. If you are happy doing the Job... Then don't let the little things bother you.
    Be prepared for some of the highest highs in your life... But also remember you will see some of the lowest lows... (Example: High, saving someone that surely would have died in a fire/car accident or other type scene. Low, working your azz off trying to save a child in cardiac arrest... Bringing the child back only to find out the call is a shaking baby call and even though you saved the body... the brain is a vegetable.)
    It is truly a calling. I DO LOVE my chosen profession. I call it that because I do NOT consider it a job.
    Also do not get into the battles of Pros vs. Vollies. We are ALL here to do the same thing. Save Life, Property and the environment. All I care about with anyone that is interested in this line of work (Pro or vollie) is that you can do the job. I can care less if you are Male, Female, somewhere in between, White, black, yellow, green, polka dot... As long as you can do the job and in the worst case scenario... Drag me out of a building... you are good to go with me.

    I think I went on a tirade there at the end... Sorry. Good luck if you decide to do it, But remember... As my Capt always says, "This aint for everyone"
  17. Ron Smith

    Ron Smith

    Jul 18, 2004
    I spent 13.5 years of my life volunteering as a firefighter and EMT. Met a lot of great people and few I could have done without. Dealt with the internal politics and hated every minute of it. Laughed alot and cried a bunch too. Got an education that no one will ever be able to take away and was blessed with the comeraderie that only those who put their lives on the line understand and can value. Lost more patients than I care to admit, but also brought 2 beautiful children into this world via personal deliveries in the back of our ambulance. Do it for the right reasons and the criticisms (warranted or unwarranted) don't matter. Do it for the WRONG reasons and you risk putting your life and those we are "charged to keep" in jeapardy.
  18. M1Garand


    Sep 7, 2005
    If you have the time, volunteer for the fire department or police department is definitely a good way to serve your community.
  19. volunteering is a good way to see if you really want to be in the fire service. it also will help you with getting a full/part time job if that is what you want. it is also realy fun and you get to meat new people.