1-800-FIRE-LINE is a national campaign to help retain and recruit both emergency and nonemergency volunteers in the fire and emergency medical services. As call volume continues to increase while the number of volunteer emergency responders has been declining, fire/EMS departments urgently need more personnel to protect their communities from fire and other emergencies. Career, combination, and volunteer departments also need assistance with non-emergency tasks so that first responders can focus on training and responding to emergencies and the departments can provide more programs and services in an effort to meet the growing needs of their communities.
Fire and Emergency Service Terminology
If you have never set foot inside a fire or EMS department before, some of the lingo might be unfamiliar to you. To provide you with a little background, below are some commonly used terms and their definitions:
First Responders – Individuals who, in the early stages of an incident, are responsible for the protection and preservation of life, property, evidence, and the environment. This includes firefighters and EMTs.
Firefighters – Individuals who respond to fire incidents and, frequently, to medical emergencies as well, including most natural and man-made disasters.
Fire Chief – The head of a fire department.
EMS – Emergency medical service
EMT – Emergency medical technician. Individuals who are specially trained and certified to provide basic emergency care services before and during transport to a hospital or other care facility.
Paramedic – Highest level of EMTs. Qualified to administer pharmaceutical drugs.
Turnouts – The fire-retardant clothing that firefighters wear to a fire call.
Apparatus – Vehicle used in transporting firefighters to the scene of an incident. Sometimes also referred to as truck or engine.
Career, call, and volunteer – Career refers to individuals who make fire and emergency service their occupation. They have shifts at a station and are paid. Pay Per Call refers to individuals who have a different, primary job and are paid only for calls that they respond to. Volunteer refers to individuals who respond to incidents without accepting compensation.
What to Expect
As a volunteer firefighter/EMT, you can expect to:
Attend weekly and/or monthly meetings and training sessions
Participate in regular duty shifts. Hours vary by department.
Perform physically demanding work
Spend extended periods of time outside in inclement weather
Be called out at any hour of the day or night
As a Fire Corps volunteer, you can expect to assist your department in a non-emergency role. The activities vary greatly depending on the department or organization, but the list below should give you an idea of what opportunities may be available:
Teaching fire safety to children
Installing smoke alarms in area homes
Maintaining the department’s web site
Distributing disaster preparedness materials
Providing rehabilitation services to first responders during long calls
Executing home safety checks
And so much more!