Volunteer firefighter


Network Support I
Can anyone provide insight into volunteer firefighting. I just moved to the Annapolis MD area and I am looking to broaden my skillset, resume and become more involved in my community. Anyone here do it or work with those that are that can provide insight into the following.

1. Expected hours and shifts
2. Training provided
3. Needed/helpful training or education prerequisites
4. Parts of the job you love.
5. Parts of the job you hate
6. Positive things the job has provided you with.
7.Negative things the job has provided you with.
8.What were the first 3, 6, 9, 12 months like and how did your views of the job, team, calls etc change over time.

Thank you for your time.

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I talked to a Fire Chief up here in New England out of curiosity and he said the training would take you out of work for 17(?) Weeks (its a full Academy). While it's very little in what your asking, That is something you might need to take into consideration.


Regular Member
I would say that volunteer firefighting is hugely variable from department to department. I was a part of the largest volunteer department in the USA for 4 years, from 2013 to 2017. Our department had our own cadet classes, and as they say, "it takes all types"; anyone who stuck through was allowed in for the most part.

One of the instructors told us that 5 years after graduation, less than 10% of the graduates would still be a part of the department. The attrition rate was indeed that bad; when I left at 4 years (I moved away due to a career change), I was probably of the 3 or 4 regulars left from my class of ~30.

Typically, likes most places, 10% of the people do 90% of the work; this held true at my department, where a small number of volunteers took the vast majority of the shifts. Still, we were short-staffed enough that we required the help of duty crew to cover shifts more and more as the years wore out. There's been a perpetual fear that the department would stop being combined and go fully paid, and the politics of the department definitely had that as an issue.

Things like SOP, training requirements, volunteer hours needed, pay (many places will offer stipends, some of them enough that you could make a living out of, which I've seen), etc., are all wildly variable. You will have to see what your local departments mandate to see about a lot of the quality of life stuff.
So....volunteering in Maryland.....

first, all standards are run through the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute (MFRI) through the U of MD. They set the courses in each level of discipline from Firefighter I (FFI), FFII, Rescue technician of various disciplines, fire and EMS officer courses, etc. Regardless of what county you join, the courses will be run through MFRI at either station level or training centers throughout the state. You can google MFRI and check out the miriad of courses they offer.

Volunteer standards will vary by county, department, company and station. for example, Anne Arundel county has vollies and paid out of the same stations. Baltimore County has seperate volly and career stations. Harford County is all volunteer with assorted paid EMS programs.

As far as standards, figure a minimum "entry" level class (either FFI or EMT) plus CPR, Bloodbourne and Haz-Mat Operations will get you riding. Some companies have monthly or quarterly duty requirements of call percentage for the year. Some companies will let you ride everything with just FFI while some will restrict you to an engine until youve taken classes such as aerial ops or rescue tech to begin riding ladder trucks and rescue squads.

To be blunt, there are a load of variables. I've got decent connections in AA county if you are looking to volly around there. I've got a bro in Annapolis but they are all paid if I'm not mistaken.

Parts I love: I love EMS and I wouldn't be where I'm at today without my start in the volly house. I have some life long friends from the volunteer house and am still active. Hell I met my wife there.

Parts I hate: There are people who in their regular jobs will never advance beyond junior potato peeler but thanks to elected positions are now a "far" chief with a take home car and authority. Also...EMS is the stepchild of the fire service, so there is the gripe.

Biggest thing I will tell you is to have patience. It takes longer to process applications and things since this isn't the leaderships day job...and sometimes things don't make sense.....but overall it's a decent hobby.