It has been estimated that across the United States 69% of fire-fighters are volunteers. Many people think of a Volunteer Fire-fighter as one who simply gives of their time and efforts simply for a greater good and the only thing given back to them in return is gratitude for a good day’s work. However, this is not as permanent of a definition as one might think. It might be better understood to define a volunteer fire-fighter in these two ways:
“A volunteer fire-fighter is one who has agreed to work for no pay.”
“A volunteer fire-fighter is one who volunteers and agrees to get paid for specific jobs.”
The intention of the following information is to exhibit the benefits of doing volunteer work in local fire stations across the country – whether they be financial benefits or otherwise.
In the beginning of a volunteer fire-fighter’s service, it may not always be clear what their intentions or driving force might be for them to willingly serve. It is most pleasant to think that volunteers love their towns and communities so much that they are willing to sacrifice time, effort, and even their lives to serve something other than their own ambitions. Regardless of the deep-rooted aspirations, it will not be denied that serving as a volunteer in a fire station brings with it several benefits. First of all, it ushers in experience. Volunteers are trained in much the same way (National Fire Protection standards) as career fire-fighters and perform the same tasks and duties in emergency or non-emergency situations. Volunteers are put through physical tests, they are taught how to use the equipment to fight fires, medical/first aid procedures, and are required to “put in” a certain number of hours for community service. Many say that the selflessness of serving society is reward in itself. Let us not fail to mention that all of this time and experience can look astounding on a resume. In point of fact, many a time it is when volunteer fire-fighters have gone on into big rig driving, Ambulance services and other medical careers because of their inspirational volunteer experience. More often than not, those volunteers who have paid their dues in training and service have never walked away empty-handed.
Firehouse policies can certainly vary from town-to-town and state-to-state but often there are financial benefits associated with volunteer fire-fighting. Fire departments in any given State may possess their very own Benefit Associations or Donation Funds. Volunteer fire-fighters have often received financial compensation for hours of work put in and even tax credits. These tax credits can be claimed by filling out an application that will later be attached to income tax forms. It is also true that the Department of Labor (DOL) in several cases has allowed volunteer fire-fighters to receive worker’s compensation, disability insurance, health insurance, life insurance, pension plans, length of service awards and even property tax relief. The (DOL) may also suggest that volunteers be paid nominal fees on a (per call or shift) basis. Many volunteer firefighters start off in a cadet program in high school.
If reading this has not yet convinced you that volunteer fire-fighting brings with it very reasonable and acceptable benefits then perhaps you should join your local fire department, go through the training, be educated and prove it all to yourself.