Research Volunteer Fire Departments by California County
There are local programs in counties throughout California. Please select the county where you plan on volunteering to learn more about volunteering with your local Fire or EMS department.
Become A Volunteer Today!
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Volunteer emergency responders make up 73% of the fire service throughout the US. The volunteer emergency service is an extremely valuable national resource, protecting neighbors and saving taxpayers money. If you have the commitment and motivation to make your community a better place, consider volunteering with your local fire or EMS department.
How To Apply
- Each year, the California fire seasons seems to grow longer! With an increase in local emergencies, we need more volunteers to answer the call.
- With your help, California volunteer fire departments can continue making a difference in the lives of others.
- Think you have what it takes to be a volunteer firefighter? Fill out this simple application to get started. NO EXPERIENCE REQUIRED!
Volunteer Requirements & Selection Criteria
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Have a valid driver’s license
- Be healthy and in good physical condition
- Complete basic fire & EMS training
- Live in close proximity to the fire district
- Have a clean criminal record
- Meet the minimum ongoing training requirements
- Respond to a certain percentage of calls
Time requirements vary by department. Time commitment will depend on several factors, such as the number of calls the department receives, training requirements, shift versus on-call structure, and community activities in which the department requires volunteers to participate.
Volunteer departments prefer that volunteers have the ability to respond to calls 24 hours a day, although most departments still accept volunteers who are unable to leave work or other obligations to respond to a call.
Typically, departments pay for training and firefighting equipment. Volunteer firefighting is an unpaid position; however, some departments may provide stipends or reimburse volunteers for certain expenses.
- Media and marketing campaign to pick up where the previous SAFER Grant left off. These efforts are statewide and will educate the public about the need for volunteer firefighters in local communities. Interested prospects will be driven to www.volunteerfirefighter.org to complete an application that will be routed to the fire chiefs in their county of residence.
- At least sixteen (four per year) 2-day live fire training courses geared towards the specifications for Fire Control 3 certification will take place across California. Burn buildings and trailers will be rented and facilitated by experienced instructors in locations that will provide convenience for participation. To sign-up visit 855volfire.com.
- At least sixteen (four per year) 2-day Retention & Recruitment Workshops conducted by current volunteer fire service leaders. For future dates & locations visit CSFA.net & select the “Volunteers” section at the top of the page.
- Approximately 40 new recruits per year will be awarded a grant package for expenses including:
- $450 towards physical.
- $2,500 towards the purchase of a new set of turnouts once training and physical have been completed to standard.
Awards will be determined through an application process which will follow the SOP’s outlined in the Administrative Guide.
Please download the Administrative Guide and Application if you are interested in participating in this program. Applications must be printed and mailed to the address at the top of the form, as a signature from the Chief is required for processing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Most common Volunteer Firefighter questions
Volunteers across the country consist of both men and women, young and old. Volunteers of any race are welcome to the volunteer fire and EMS service. Every department has different requirements and a different process in which to become a volunteer. In every department though, a volunteer must be in good health condition and be respectful and determined.
Do Volunteers receive compensation?
Compensation varies by department. Some departments do not provide any kind of payment, some provide a small stipend per call and/or training, others provide hourly payment while responding to a call and/or attending training.
What training is required?
In most areas of the country, volunteers can be fully trained and state certified at no expense to the volunteer. It is common for volunteer emergency responders to receive the same training and certifications as career firefighters and EMTs.
Departments often consist of various divisions which specialize in a specific area, such as dive team, search and rescue, fire inspector, etc. Volunteers are able to participate in these specialized areas with proper training. It is common for fire and EMS services to be combined in one department and therefore, volunteers are required to be trained in both fields.
Most departments require volunteers to obtain firefighter I certification within the first 24 months with the fire department. EMS training is also required for those who provide patient care.
Are there advancement opportunities?
Many individuals volunteer to gain experience and training to prepare for a career in the emergency response service. Most departments with career firefighters and EMTs prefer to fill open positions by hiring internally.
What's the department structure?
Every department has a leader, typically a Chief who has been elected or hired. The Chief is usually tasked with daily operations such as budget, training, community relations, recruitment and retention, government relations, etc. It’s common for the Chief’s position to be full-time and paid, even in a volunteer department. In most situations, Chiefs appoint individuals to support the department.
Volunteer Firefighter Information
The Committee for Volunteers provides a resource for the membership dealing with specific problems relative to the volunteer fire service
The issue of proper training, education and qualifications for apparatus operators is a key issue. National statistics have demonstrated time after time that apparatus accidents are a leading cause of firefighter injury and fatality. This document is being provided to the volunteer fire service as a tool to assure high quality consideration for apparatus operators who are chauffeuring emergency vehicles under emergency conditions. The document consists of a problem statement, documents from the DMV, and documents from the State Fire Marshal’s Office, samples of program activity in the field and a recommended course of action by a local fire chief.
CSFA is actively working with SAFER grant funding to enhance the recruiting and retention efforts for the California fire service. In Fall 2018 CSFA was awarded their 4th statewide SAFER grant. This 4-year grant award will provide live fire training courses to volunteer firefighters throughout California. There is no cost for these courses. Departments will need to enroll their volunteers and get them to and from the event. Sixteen (four per year) 2-day live fire training courses geared towards the specifications for Fire Control 3 certification will take place across California. Burn buildings and trailers will be rented and facilitated by experienced instructors in locations that will provide convenience for participation. Download the flyer here!
At most locations we contract with the Kelseyville Fire Protection district to utilize their live burn trailer. To learn more about what to expect with this trailer visit the Kelseyville website here.
Please contact Marty Creel with any questions regarding Live Fire Training.
Firefighter Health Physical & PPE
- Each firefighter enrolled in a volunteer fire department after November 2021 is eligible to receive $700 toward a NFPA 1582 firefighter physical.
- Each firefighter enrolled in a volunteer fire department after November 2021 is eligible to receive $3275 toward bunker gear set for free as long as he/she has passed the firefighter physical.
- To apply for your department’s physical and PPE program reimbursement, click here.