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Articles

Volunteer as a First Responder

Thank you for your interest in serving your local community as a volunteer firefighter or EMS provider. As a volunteer, you will be joining a proud tradition that dates back to the very beginning of our nation, with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin among the many founding fathers who were also involved in the volunteer fire service.

Today, volunteers still comprise a majority of our nation’s fire service. In fact, 70% of all firefighters are volunteers, with over one million volunteer firefighters and emergency medical personnel in the U.S. Half of all Americans live in communities served by fire departments that are either volunteer or a combination of volunteer and career (full-time and paid). In addition to providing life-saving services, these volunteers save communities across the nation a significant amount of money. It would cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated $140.7 billion every year if all the volunteer first responders were replaced with career staff.

Below you will find information to help you get started, including what to expect as a volunteer firefighter or EMT, how to volunteer with your local fire/EMS department, and a list of commonly used terms to help you become familiar with the fire and emergency service field.

If you have questions and would like to speak with someone on the phone, please call 1-800-FIRE-LINE.

What to Expect

By becoming a volunteer firefighter or EMT, you will play a crucial role in protecting your neighbors from disasters and emergencies of all kinds. You will also be joining a tight-knit group of men and women dedicated to providing life-saving services to their community.

Being a volunteer first responder is very demanding and requires a great deal of commitment and training. As a volunteer firefighter or EMT, you can expect to:

  • Attend weekly and/or monthly meetings and training sessions.
  • Participate in regular duty shifts. Hours vary by department.
  • Perform physically demanding work.
  • Spend extended periods of time outside in inclement weather.
  • Be called out at any hour of the day or night.


Find a Department

If you are ready to volunteer or want to learn more about becoming a volunteer firefighter/EMT, call 1-800-FIRE-LINE or fill out the online form to be connected with a department near you.

Fire and Emergency Service Terminology

Click here to learn some fire service lingo you will need to know as a volunteer with your fire/EMS department.