Every firefighter, career or volunteer, is held to the same standards set by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Once you become a member of a department, you’ll take Basic Exterior Firefighting Operations with the option to move on to Interior Firefighting Operations. This training is so much more than an introduction to the fire service. You’ll learn to fight fires on a professional level: everything from properly preparing your body with turnout gear and radio communications on the fireground to search and rescue, salvage and overhaul, strategies and tactics. All of this training is provided by your department.
SCBA, TIC and CAFS might not mean anything to you now, but soon you’ll be equipped and trained to use self-contained breathing apparatus, thermal imaging cameras and compressed air foam systems. Hydraulic spreaders, cutters and rams (the Jaws of Life) are just a few of the tools of the trade that goes well beyond fighting fires. Volunteer firefighters are professionally trained to wield the iconic ax, pike pole, sledgehammer, Halligan, various hand tools and even portable lighting systems. This isn’t the stuff you’d find around the common workplace or home, but anyone can be taught to use them right and well in the volunteer fire service.
Teamwork is at the center of all this training and equipment. The brother- and sisterhood of the volunteer fire service share the same basic training, rewarding experience and life-changing growth that you can only find in the fire service. You do it together as a member of your department and team, from communications in the most intense conditions to general camaraderie and recreation around the firehouse. You will undoubtedly make lifelong connections and professionally network within your firefighting family.
This is indeed the ultimate community service. Volunteer firefighters fulfill the tradition and legacy through the simple act of neighbors helping neighbors. It is no small feat to save and protect property and life, whether on the fireground or at the scene of an accident. When you join the volunteer fire service, you commit to serve and protect your family, friends and neighbors. You may also be recognized for your efforts with awards or just a heartfelt thank you from those whose lives you have the potential to impact each and every day.
Volunteer firefighters also enjoy tangible benefits, including free training and equipment, tax breaks and essential insurance coverage under the Volunteer Firefighter Benefits Law (VFBL) of New York State. Young volunteers can earn scholarships and tuition reimbursement for college. Everyone gets access to income tax credits, property tax reductions and eligibility for affordable coverage from the New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP). Free health checkups and service pensions are just some of the many other benefits.