Volunteer Firefighter Job Description

Volunteer Firefighters serve their communities by responding to fires and other emergencies. In some municipalities, Volunteer Firefighters also work as building inspectors or emergency medical technicians (EMTs). This position requires a great deal of teamwork, especially when fighting active fires. Often, Volunteer Firefighters use the position to gain experience to become professional firefighters.

Volunteer Firefighters usually work under the supervision of a fire chief or company officer. Most volunteer opportunities are found in municipal fire departments, but a Volunteer Firefighter may also work for a private or public ambulance service.


Volunteer Firefighter Duties and Responsibilities

The main responsibilities of a Volunteer Firefighter are to assist people in distress, rescue fire victims and extinguish fires as quickly as possible. To accomplish these goals, a Volunteer Firefighter must perform a wide range of tasks. We reviewed several job listings to determine the primary duties of a Volunteer Firefighter.

Inspect Equipment

Communities rely on Volunteer Firefighters to inspect and maintain fire trucks, ladders, hoses and other fire-fighting equipment. Volunteer Firefighters regularly inspect their equipment for cracks, leaks, holes and other signs of damage. If a piece of equipment is damaged beyond repair, the Volunteer Firefighter submits a request for a replacement.

Administer First Aid

In addition to fighting fires, Volunteer Firefighters also respond to auto accidents and other emergencies. When responding to a fire or accident scene, a Volunteer Firefighter may have to administer CPR or perform other first-aid procedures. With special training, a Volunteer Firefighter may also perform basic life-support procedures.

Suppress Fires

A Volunteer Firefighter uses a variety of techniques to control and extinguish fires. Volunteer Firefighters use ladders, hydrants, hoses, fire extinguishers, and other tools to prevent fires from spreading. In some cases, a Volunteer Firefighter may have to enter a burning building to put out the flames or rescue fire victims.

Drive Emergency Vehicles

Volunteer Firefighters with the proper training may be called upon to drive fire trucks and other emergency vehicles. Some Volunteer Firefighters use their own vehicles to respond to fires and accident scenes.

Investigate Fires

Volunteer Firefighters help determine the cause of each fire they extinguish. If a fire is the result of arson, a Volunteer Firefighter may be called to testify against the perpetrator in court.


Volunteer Firefighter Skills

Excellent interpersonal communication skills are a must for any Volunteer Firefighter. The position requires a great deal of contact with fire and accident victims, police officers and government officials. Because fires can rage out of control quickly, a Volunteer Firefighter must be able to make quick decisions. Fire departments also are looking for Volunteer Firefighter candidates with the following skills.

Core skills: We reviewed several Volunteer Firefighter job listings to determine the core duties for this position. Focus on the following if you want a chance at a Volunteer Firefighter job.

  • Operating, monitoring and maintaining fire-fighting equipment, such as hoses, extinguishers and personal protective equipment
  • Providing basic medical attention to fire and accident victims
  • Rescuing people from dangerous situations
  • Preparing accident reports

Advanced skills: Many fire companies do not require Volunteer Firefighters to have the following skills, but we saw several job listings that included them as preferred qualifications. Advance your career by learning the following.

  • Training new Volunteer Firefighters to perform their duties in a safe manner
  • Operating rescue boats and other watercraft
  • Administering basic life support
  • Rescuing accident victims in wet, icy conditions


Volunteer Firefighter Resources

We looked for resources to help you become a Volunteer Firefighter and excel at your job. The list of resources includes websites, industry associations, and books that can help you make valuable professional connections and obtain the certifications necessary to succeed in the field.

On the Web

VolunteerFD.org – Read articles and connect with Volunteer Firefighters located throughout the United States.

VolunteerFirefighter.org – Find out if you have what it takes to become a Volunteer Firefighter.

Industry Groups

National Volunteer Fire Council – Find information on creating bylaws, operations manuals, and other documents to improve your volunteer fire department.

IAFF Firefighters – Access training resources and information on safety standards for firefighters.

Volunteer Firefighter Books

The Fire Athlete Fitness Program – Prepare for the physical demands of firefighting by working through this fitness program.

Firefighter Exam for Dummies – Learn how to tackle the tough questions on firefighter exams given throughout the United States and Canada.

Firefighter Candidate Exams – Take practice tests and review the correct answers in preparation for the written firefighter exam.


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