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Do Volunteer Firefighters Get Paid For the Work They Do?

Jill Caren
By Jill Caren
Updated December 17th, 2023

Volunteer firefighters are the backbone of the fire service. They are the ones who put their lives on the line to protect our communities, often without any financial compensation.

In this article, we will explore the question of whether or not volunteer firefighters get paid. We will also discuss the various forms of compensation that volunteer firefighters may receive, as well as the reasons why people choose to volunteer as firefighters.

Do Volunteer Firefighters Get Paid?

The short answer is no, volunteer firefighters do not get paid a salary or an hourly wage.

But, there are some forms of compensation that volunteer firefighters may receive.

  • Stipends: Some fire departments offer stipends to their volunteer firefighters. This is a small amount of money that is paid on a monthly or annual basis. The amount of the stipend varies depending on the fire department and the firefighter’s rank.
  • Per-call payments: Some fire departments pay their volunteer firefighters a small amount of money for each call that they respond to. This is typically just enough to cover the cost of gas and other expenses incurred while responding to the call.
  • Reimbursement for expenses: Volunteer firefighters may be reimbursed for certain expenses incurred while on duty, such as the cost of uniforms, equipment, and training.
  • Benefits: Some fire departments offer their volunteer firefighters benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off.

It is important to note that the amount of compensation that volunteer firefighters receive varies widely from department to department. Some departments offer very little compensation, while others offer more generous benefits.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to volunteer as a firefighter is a personal one. There are many rewards to volunteering, such as the satisfaction of helping others and making a difference in your community. However, it is important to be aware of the fact that you will not be compensated financially for your work.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter, I encourage you to contact your local fire department and inquire about their compensation policies.

You can also find more information about volunteer firefighting on the website of the National Volunteer Fire Council.

Volunteer Firefighter Facts

According to the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), there are an estimated 676,900 volunteer firefighters in the United States. This represents 65% of all firefighters in the country. Volunteer firefighters are responsible for protecting over 200 million people in the United States.

The majority of volunteer firefighters (62%) are male, but the number of female volunteer firefighters is increasing. In 2020, there were 72,400 female volunteer firefighters in the United States.

Volunteer firefighters come from all walks of life. They are doctors, lawyers, teachers, firefighters, and many other professions. What they all have in common is a desire to help their community and make a difference in the lives of others.

Volunteer firefighters play an essential role in the fire service. They provide a vital service to their communities and save lives every day. I am proud to be a volunteer firefighter and I encourage others to consider volunteering as well.

Here are some additional facts about volunteer firefighters in the United States:

  • The average age of a volunteer firefighter is 39 years old.
  • The most common reason for volunteering as a firefighter is to help others.
  • Volunteer firefighters train an average of 100 hours per year.
  • Volunteer firefighters respond to an average of 700 calls per year.
  • Volunteer firefighters save an estimated $46.9 billion per year in property damage and other costs.

Volunteer vs. Career Firefighters

When it comes to firefighting, there are two main types: volunteer and career firefighters.

While both types of firefighters have the same basic job, there are some differences between the two.

Comparison of Roles and Responsibilities

Volunteer firefighters are individuals who are willing to donate their time and energy to help their community. They are not paid for their services, but they are often given a stipend to cover expenses such as gas and meals. Career firefighters, on the other hand, are paid for their services and work full-time for a fire department.

Volunteer firefighters often have other jobs or responsibilities outside of firefighting, while career firefighters typically have firefighting as their sole profession. As a result, career firefighters are often more experienced and have more advanced training than volunteer firefighters.

Training Requirements

Both volunteer and career firefighters must undergo training to become certified firefighters. However, career firefighters often have more extensive training requirements. They may also have to meet additional requirements, such as having a college degree or passing a physical fitness test.

Volunteer firefighters may receive training on a part-time basis, while career firefighters typically receive full-time training. Additionally, career firefighters may have access to more advanced training resources, such as specialized equipment or training facilities.

Work Environment Differences

Volunteer firefighters typically work on a part-time basis and respond to emergencies when they are available. They may work in rural areas where there are fewer full-time firefighters available. Career firefighters, on the other hand, work full-time and are typically stationed at a fire department.

Career firefighters are considered blue collar and may have specialized roles, such as being part of a hazardous materials team or a technical rescue team. Volunteer firefighters may have more general roles, such as responding to fires or medical emergencies.

In summary, while both volunteer and career firefighters have the same basic job, there are some differences between the two. Career firefighters typically have more extensive training requirements and work full-time for a fire department, while volunteer firefighters work on a part-time basis and may have other jobs or responsibilities.

firefighter working on putting out flames

Duties of a Volunteer Firefighter

As a volunteer firefighter, you play a vital role in protecting your community from fires and other emergencies. Your duties may vary depending on the needs of your local fire department, but generally, they can be divided into three categories: Emergency Response Duties, Community Service Duties, and Administrative Duties.

Emergency Response Duties

When an emergency call comes in, you will be expected to respond quickly and efficiently. Emergency response duties may include:

  • Fighting fires
  • Rescuing people and animals from burning buildings
  • Providing medical assistance to accident victims
  • Responding to hazardous materials incidents
  • Conducting search and rescue operations

As a volunteer firefighter, you will be trained to handle a variety of emergency situations. You will need to be physically fit, mentally alert, and able to work well under pressure.

Community Service Duties

In addition to emergency response duties, you will also be expected to participate in community service activities. These may include:

  • Conducting fire safety inspections
  • Educating the public about fire prevention
  • Assisting with community events
  • Conducting fire drills at schools and businesses
  • Participating in fundraising activities

Community service duties are an important part of being a volunteer firefighter. They help to build strong relationships between the fire department and the community it serves.

Administrative Duties

As a volunteer firefighter, you may also be asked to perform administrative duties. These may include:

  • Maintaining equipment and vehicles
  • Keeping records of training and emergency responses
  • Attending meetings and training sessions
  • Participating in department planning and budgeting

Administrative duties are essential to the smooth operation of any fire department. As a volunteer firefighter, you will need to be organized and detail-oriented to perform these duties effectively.

In summary, as a volunteer firefighter, you will be expected to perform a wide range of duties. You will need to be physically fit, mentally alert, and able to work well under pressure. You will also need to be committed to serving your community and willing to participate in a variety of activities. In the next section, we will explore whether or not volunteer firefighters get paid for their services.

Fun Fact: Steve Buscemi worked as a NYC firefighter before he became famous. See more blue collar celebrities here.

Benefits of Being a Volunteer Firefighter

Being a volunteer firefighter can be a highly rewarding experience that offers many benefits. In this section, we will discuss some of the advantages of being a volunteer firefighter.

Skill Development

As a volunteer firefighter, you will have the opportunity to develop a range of valuable skills. You will receive training in areas such as fire suppression, search and rescue, and emergency medical services. This training will not only help you in your role as a firefighter but can also be applied to other areas of your life. For example, you may learn valuable leadership and communication skills that can help you in your career or personal life.

Community Connection

Volunteer firefighters play a crucial role in their communities. By serving as a volunteer firefighter, you will have the opportunity to connect with your community and make a positive impact. You will work alongside other volunteers who share your commitment to serving others, and you will have the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with your fellow firefighters and community members.

Potential Career Advancement

Volunteering as a firefighter can also provide opportunities for career advancement. Many volunteer firefighters go on to become career firefighters or pursue other careers in public safety.

Many go on to get more formal training a firefighter training school.

The training and experience you gain as a volunteer firefighter can be highly valued by employers in a variety of industries. Additionally, volunteering as a firefighter can provide valuable networking opportunities that can help you advance your career.

Being a volunteer firefighter offers many benefits, including skill development, community connection, and potential career advancement. By volunteering as a firefighter, you can make a positive impact in your community while also gaining valuable experience and skills that can benefit you in many areas of your life.


Jill Caren is an international SEO consultant and founder of 2Dogs Media. She is also a trainer, journalist, and speaker who helps brands increase their organic search visibility, traffic, and conversions. She is also the co-founder of Blue Collar Brain, a resource for those looking to enter a trade career.

She has been featured on MSN, Wealth of Geeks, Hubspot, SEO Powersuite, and other publications for her work as an SEO and advocate for skilled trades.