Training and Skills Required to Become a Volunteer Firefighter
There is physical training and several skills required for people to become volunteer firefighters. Although some of this varies among states and even fire stations, most of it remains generally the same.
Physical Test and Training
After applying and going through an interview and background check, volunteer firefighters need to pass a physical test. This varies by state, but participants should be ready to drag up to 180 pounds, lift as much as 70 pounds and crawl through tight spaces while wearing firefighting gear. After passing, they are required to complete a 110-hour training program to become certified by the National Fire Protection Association.
One of the most important skills a firefighter needs to have is knowledge of safety techniques and procedures. This includes attention to detail to assess the scene of a fire and identify the dangers before continuing. It also includes being able to communicate with victims at the scene, their colleagues and other emergency responders. Volunteer firefighters need to know the safe, approved process for any emergency as well.
Know the Equipment
Firefighters need to be skilled when they go to use firefighting equipment. They have to be able to use hand tools, like axes, the high-pressure fire hose and saws, as well as their gear and more complex machinery. It’s harder to drive a fire engine than a regular vehicle. They will need to demonstrate that they can use all equipment safely and effectively before they are called to the scene of a fire.
Be Well Skilled in First Aid
The emergencies that volunteer firefighters are called to aren’t always fires. They may need to respond to car accidents, natural disasters, false alarms and other medical emergencies. In these scenarios, someone could need immediate treatment. Because of this, firefighters need to have extensive knowledge of first aid procedures and techniques, such as the basic assessment of a victim, stabilization and CPR.
Volunteer firefighters can be thrown into some really hectic and stressful situations. They need to be able to remain calm during these scenarios and be able to handle the stress. This includes maintaining communication with their colleagues at all times, listening to everyone around them, and using common sense. These cases may even call for them to make decisions right away, so they need to be able to keep a clear head and not let their emotions get the best of them.
Be Flexible and Self-Motivated
Since there is no way to plan for an emergency, volunteer firefighters need to be flexible and even work under short time frames. This may mean they have to determine which parts of their lives take priority over others in order to be there for their colleagues and the community. Additionally, volunteer firefighters need to be self-motivated, which means taking charge when they have to and working with little to no supervision.
Working as a volunteer firefighter needs the same training and skills as a career firefighter. By completing the training and developing these skills, as well as others, anyone interested can volunteer for their community.