In today’s fast-paced world, many people are looking for job opportunities that provide a greater sense of purpose and well-being. One of the best ways to improve your sense of self while serving your community is through volunteer firefighting. This amazing opportunity allows you to learn new skills and make a direct impact on the lives of friends and neighbors.
About Volunteer Firefighters
Volunteer firefighters play a crucial role in fire departments across the United States. 95% of firefighters work for communities with fewer than 25,000 people, and less than half of volunteer firefighters have more than 10 years of active service.
Extinguishing fires is only a small part of a firefighter’s job. Some of the many tasks volunteer firefighters perform include:
- Fire suppression: Volunteer firefighters aid in preventing smaller fires from growing and spreading.
- Emergency services: While it may vary depending on their department, many volunteer firefighters undergo training for first aid and CPR to serve as first responders at fires and other accident scenes.
- Search and rescue: Volunteer firefighters can assist in search efforts when someone is missing or abducted.
- Traffic control: Many fire departments collaborate with police to direct traffic or set up roadblocks at major fire accidents.
- Volunteer fire station chores: Some volunteer fire departments require their firemen to sleep overnight at the station and share tasks like cleaning and maintaining equipment.
- Administrative work: Many fire departments share administrative tasks such as writing reports and planning regular drills.
- Community outreach: Firefighters are active in the community and promote fire safety by visiting schools and attending community events.
The Importance of Volunteer Firefighters
Volunteer firefighters help supplement a town or city’s ability to respond to fires and other emergencies. Without volunteers, a community may need to rely on limited emergency services or fire departments from neighboring towns or cities, which may cause a delay in response times. In 2020, of the 1,041,200 firefighters in the United States, 676,900 were volunteers.
Volunteer firefighters make up 65% of the firefighting workforce, and only 18% of fire departments in the United States are career or mostly career fire departments. Of the 29,452 fire departments in the United States, 64% are entirely made up of volunteers who serve and protect nearly 30% of the United States population.
The Decline of Volunteer Firefighters
Traditionally, volunteering at the local fire department was a family affair, with fathers, brothers and sons often serving the same department. However, since 1987, fire departments across the country have seen a sharp decline in their recruiting, with the number of volunteer firefighters reaching its lowest point in 2020. While this decline made operations difficult for many volunteer fire stations, it mainly impacted communities with populations under 25,000.
Why Is Volunteerism Down?
The decline in volunteerism at local fire departments is the result of several factors:
- Rise in two-income households: Many modern families require both spouses to have full-time jobs to support living expenses, making it difficult to take a non-paying volunteer position.
- Lack of time: Full-time employment often leaves little time for other demands, such as a volunteer position. Volunteers must also undergo the same training as career firefighters on their own time, which can further deter them from volunteering.
- Lack of awareness: Most residents do not know much about their local fire departments, leading to a lack of understanding about volunteer opportunities.
- Limited recruitment: Many fire departments still utilize traditional systems of having family members and friends join the department, leading to limited recruitment efforts.
How Can Volunteer Firefighting Grow?
While recent statistics have shown a decline in volunteering, there is still hope for the industry. Some ways fire stations can help their volunteer department grow include:
- Keeping costs low: Keeping costs down by investing in used fire trucks and equipment can benefit your entire department.
- Ramping up recruitment: Putting more time and energy into recruiting efforts is one of the best ways to increase volunteer numbers. Departments can also take advantage of automated software for recruitment and awareness so they can continue to recruit without additional effort.
- Offering flexible scheduling: Younger volunteer firefighters may not have as much time to give, making it essential to provide flexible scheduling to meet their time restraints.
- Stressing the importance of the job: Many residents may need help understanding the responsibility and honor associated with becoming volunteer firefighters. By making these benefits more evident, you will show potential volunteers the value of serving their local communities.
Browse Used Fire Equipment at Fenton Fire Today
Whether your fire department only consists of volunteers or you have a few career firefighters serving your community, keeping costs low is essential. At Fenton Fire, we offer a wide selection of used fire trucks and equipment to help your department source reliable vehicles and gear at low prices. Contact our team to learn more about our financing options for used equipment.