Do You Get Paid As a Volunteer Firefighter?

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Do volunteer firefighters get paid, considering the fact that fighting fires is known to be a risky endeavor? Well, as a volunteer firefighter, it’s not impossible to be paid. In fact, you might be occasionally compensated with a monthly or annual stipend.

Let’s even walk through their routine, firefighters put their lives on the line in rescuing people and properties alike. Smoke jumping and creating fire lines during wildfires are part of their routine.

Do you ever wonder why the fire departments never run out of volunteers, even though their pay is always a question on the lips of many?

Volunteering is not just giving back to society, but contributing manpower to the fire department, which will always appreciate the extra pair of hands.

If you are contemplating volunteering with your local fire department, it is only fair to understand how the system works regarding payment.

Therefore, if you are one of those keen on knowing the payment plans for a volunteer firefighter, this is your go-to article. Read through to get the answers you seek!

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Who is a volunteer firefighter?

A volunteer fireman is a professional who offers his services in assisting people in the event of a fire or other emergency without necessarily receiving salary.

In a nutshell, they respond to emergency calls and put out fires. In addition, they put out flames and stop them from spreading. Also, they provide first aid to anyone who has been injured in the course of the fire outbreak and rescue.

What Does a Volunteer Firefighter Do?

Although putting out fires is your main responsibility, you’ll have to take on other responsibilities. These include:

  • Locate and rescue people trapped in buildings
  • To control and extinguish flames, set up ladders, connect fire hoses to hydrants, and operate fire hoses
  • Following instructions of career firefighters and supervisors
  • Teaming up with other firefighters to accomplish a successful emergency response
  • Renders basic first aid and CPR to those who have been injured
  • Working with the police department in emergency response to calls for health checks
  • To carry out TIM (Traffic Incident Management) in the wake of a disaster and control traffic
  • Responsible for the maintenance, repair, and replacement of the equipment and tools in the department
  • Provide assistance in searching for and rescuing people who have gone missing
  • Train people on safety techniques and fire prevention

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Benefits of Being a Firefighter

While risking your life for others, there are certain benefits you are sure to receive that have more value than money. They are:

  • Bonding: In the course of their job, they create lifetime friendships with their coworkers and develop strong interactions with their communities.
  • Learning new skills: Signing up as a volunteer will open you up to learning new professional and safety skills. The skills you pick up can benefit you in your personal life as well as in the workplace.
  • Extra perks: In volunteering, you may qualify for tax breaks, retirement plans, and even scholarships.

How to Become a Volunteer Firefighter

If you’ve been wondering on how to become a volunteer firefighter, we’ve got you covered. The following steps will act as a guide in you on how to become a firefighter:

1. Consider the dedication required of a volunteer fireman

Before delving into any venture with the label “serious”, it is important for you to count the cost. Firefighting is no joke. Hence, you need to evaluate the amount of commitment it would require.

For instance, you need to brace up to the fact that you may no longer have free time to look forward to. Being on call implies that you always need to be ready to respond to emergencies.

You can’t make considerations without thinking of your physical fitness. Firefighters stay healthy and fit due to the energy the job requires.

On the other hand, you need to consider how the state of your finances. Remember, you may get little or no stipend at the end of the day.

You equally need to consider your emotional strength. The ability to stay calm and sane in the face of chaos is very important. You will need these virtues in helping people in distress.

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2. Contact Your Local Fire Department

Get in touch with your local fire department to inquire about the job of a volunteer firefighter and how you can take it up.

Ensure you ask the fire chief the right questions that will guide you in your quest. The questions can include areas like openings, residency restrictions, screening process, minimum requirement, and lots more.

Getting these answers can help you decide whether you are suitable for the job or not.

3. Ensure you meet the minimum requirement

Ensure you meet the minimum requirement of the fire department. These requirements include attaining the legal age, possessing a high school diploma, scaling the background check, and possessing a valid driver’s license.

4. Complete the Application Process

You’ll need to complete the application and submit on the department’s website.

5. Complete the screening process

You need to pass the screening process before you can get into the department. In this phase, the department will carry out a background check on you. Also, you will subject yourself to a physical examination.

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6. Undergoing and completing training

In undergoing and completing the training, you will need to garner the technical know-how and skills needed for emergencies. This includes putting out fires and first aid treatment.

Attending training, conferences, and reading up materials is a great way to accrue knowledge and keep getting better.

7. Pursue further education

Pursuing further education can further help you improve your skills and earnings. For instance, a degree in fire science will definitely increase your chances of getting payable positions.

What Skills Does a Volunteer Firefighter Need?

Having certain skills is necessary as a volunteer firefighter. In looking forward to becoming one, you can consider the following skills:

  • Physical fitness
  • Teamwork
  • Calmness
  • Courage

Do you Get Paid As a Volunteer Firefighter?

This is the crux of the matter to most people who ask “do firefighters get paid?”. It mainly depends on your location as most volunteer firefighters don’t get paid.

However, some volunteer workers receive a stipend. On the other hand, places that don’t offer stipends make up for it by providing some benefits to these volunteers.

This is one reason why some locations keep engaging more volunteer firefighters – to cut costs in salaries.

Conclusively, your location or department determines your payment.

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Top Highest Paying Cities for Volunteer Firefighter Jobs

You might want to know just how many cities not only pay volunteer firefighters but those with the best pay. Browse through the locations below to identify the top highest paying cities for volunteering:

  • Mountain View, CA – $41,988
  • Lakes, AK – $41,535 
  • San Francisco, CA – $41,366
  • Santa Clara, CA – $40,887
  • Washington, DC – $40,335 
  • Los Angeles, CA – $39,871 
  • Fremont, CA – $39,808 
  • Jersey City, NJ – $39,351 
  • Green River, WY – $39,151 
  • San Buenaventura, CA – $39,149 

Now know for sure that volunteer firefighters get paid or receive stipends in the listed above.

Firefighter’s Pay: The Debate Surrounding It

The debate surrounding volunteer firefighters’ pay shows no sign of coming to an end anytime soon.

Most local authorities maintain that volunteers should go on volunteering and hence should not be paid. In other words, volunteer firefighters should not get paid.

These authorities believe that charging any type of fee undermines the principle of volunteerism. Thus, citing fire departments’ financial difficulties as a primary basis for not compensating volunteers.

Others, on the other hand, believe that in many regions of the country, volunteer firefighters work just as hard as career firefighters.

They are also of the opinion that these volunteer workers are the only protection against fire emergencies in the area.

In addition, they believe that volunteers deserve more financial recompense for their degree of responsibility, dedication, time, and effort than they already earn.

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What is a volunteer firefighter’s schedule?

Volunteer firefighters mostly spend 5 to 8 hours per week responding to calls in the fire department. Enlisting in an EMT Certification Program implies that he will spend an additional 10 to 15 hours training.

However, spending nights at the firehouse is his call to make.

Why Do People Become Volunteer Firefighters?

People don’t just become volunteer firefighters. There are reasons why people decide to volunteer with the fire department. These reasons include:

Giving Back to Society

Giving back to society is the most reason why a lot of people become volunteer firefighters. Becoming a volunteer firefighter is noble and unselfish. This is even more so since there is no financial benefit to it.

Gaining Work Experience

Volunteering with the local fire station may be a wonderful point of interest to add to your CV for young professionals, students, and grads.

It can also help you stand out in employment and college interviews. Even if you don’t want to be a firefighter, volunteering exhibits many valuable transferable qualities that companies and professors value.

Meeting New People

If you simply don’t know many people in your town, you can join the fire department which can give you an immediate group of friends and coworkers.

You will likely find generous and like-minded volunteers like you in the fire department.

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Fitness And Activity

Depending on how engaged you get, being a volunteer fireman can be physically taxing. It is a fact that physical activity, such as a gym session or a sporting event, strengthens and improves stamina in many people.

Learning New Skills

Volunteering with the fire department to some provides an opportunity to broaden their skillset and try something new.

Joining the fire department as a firefighter may be an exciting and fulfilling experience, similar to joining sports teams or craft societies.

A Change in Job

Most volunteers enjoy the thrill of volunteering with the fire department especially when they are not passionate about their jobs.

Why is there a need for firefighter volunteers?

Although volunteer firefighters don’t get paid, the need for firefighters is prevalent due to the small budget that barely caters for an entire squad of career firefighters.

Also, most volunteers come from a long tradition of volunteer firefighters in their families. As a result, they take satisfaction in being able to serve in the same capacity as their parents and grandparents.


How long does it take to become a firefighter?

Starting as a volunteer firefighter, it can last four to six months at a fire academy or other similar facility.

If you are pursuing a certificate in fire science, it may a take a few weeks to one year. In other words, it depends on the specific certificate program.

In addition, for an associate degree in fire science, it may take as long as 2 full years for full-time. However, part-time programs are available.

At what age do most firefighters retire?

The retirement age for firefighters is 60.

How often do firefighters recruit?

Most fire departments only hire new members once every 12 months. You just have to find out when they’re hiring.

Do volunteer firefighters get paid in US?

The fire department frequently does not compensate volunteer firefighters financially. If they eventually receive compensation, it is usually in the form of tiny stipends or annual bonuses.

How can I become a volunteer firefighter?

While becoming a volunteer can be difficult, it is achievable. You can get this done in the following ways:

  • Consider the dedication required of a volunteer fireman.
  • Contact your local fire department
  • Ensure you meet the minimum requirement
  • Complete the application process
  • Complete the screening process
  • Undergoing and completing training
  • Pursue further education

How long does a firefighter's training last?

The length of time varies. Some fire departments offer programs that last as little as 18 weeks, while others offer programs that go up to two years.


While volunteering with the fire department might not be financially rewarding, it is an act of nobility that you should take pride in.

Remember that this is a way of giving back to the community you practically grew up in. In addition, it affords you the opportunity to meet and socialize with people while saving the town.

Therefore, when next you adorn yourself in your bunker gear or turnout gear, remind yourself why you decided to jump fires. While it might seem like a part-time job without pay, it is worthwhile.

We hope this article answers the question, “do volunteer firefighters get paid?”. For feedback and comments, reach us through the comment section or @



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