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Do You Get Paid as a Volunteer Firefighter?

To even broach the topic, do volunteer firefighters get paid, we need to recognize the importance of the word “volunteer,” which signifies that you did not apply to become a firefighter for the money or as a means of livelihood. 

Volunteer firefighting is a gratifying and worthwhile way to give back to your community. Becoming a firefighter takes hard work and many hours of training. A department is waiting for you to serve if you are prepared to put in the time and effort. 

The fact also remains that while you may not have become a firefighter as a full-time job, you are a firefighter and are mostly entitled to the things that every firefighter gets.  

This article aims to answer the question that has been on everyone’s mind: “do volunteer firefighters get paid, and perhaps how much they are paid?.” This article dwells on that and all other associated questions.  


To some, the most important question is should volunteer firefighters get paid? What do you think? It all boils down to understanding the difference between career firefighters’ and volunteer firefighters’ entitlements. 

A firefighter’s principal responsibility is to put out fires. After being notified of a fire, a fireman will put on the proper safety equipment before stepping onboard or driving one of several different types of fire vehicles.

Some vehicles transfer fire victims to emergency medical centers, while others are “aerial ladder” trucks that hoist ladders to upper levels of structures. 

When do volunteer firefighters get paid question comes up, there are lots of factors to consider. If you live in places like Australia, where fires are prone, you may not necessarily consider getting paid to quench fires and large conflagrations that have engulfed your backyard. 

Read Also: If I Get Injured At Work do I Get Paid? Employee Accidents

Who is a firefighter? 

Career explorer describes a firefighter or a fireman as “a highly skilled man or woman who works to combat and extinguish fires. They also take steps to prevent fires, act as emergency medical technicians (EMT), and investigate the causes of fires.”  

They further described the nature of their work thus, “A firefighter is almost always the first official “on the scene” of fires, car accidents, or other emergencies, which is why they are also sometimes called “first responders.”

Some firefighters are career professionals, while others volunteer for duty within their communities.” 

So basically, whether a career or a volunteer firefighter, the work is very much the same. Quench fires when they arise, investigate the causes and sources of fires and perhaps help communities set up preventive fire measures. 

The USFA and Firefighters 

Fire-related property damage was $14.8 billion per year. Firemen have also paid a heavy price for this fire record; 62 firefighters perished in the line of duty in 2019. Fire killed 3700 and injured 16,600 people in 2019 according to the USFA and FEMA. 

Today’s fire losses in America are far from those of more than 40 years ago. The fire claimed the lives of almost 12,000 people in 1971, including 250 firemen.

In 1974, Congress created the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act to prevent these sad losses.

As a result, it established the National Fire Prevention and Control Administration (NFPCA), now known as the USFA, and the National Fire Academy (NFA). 

What qualifications do I need to become a volunteer firefighter? 

The most critical requirement to become a volunteer firefighter in most places is motivation, or a genuine desire to assist your neighbors and community. In some countries like America, junior members must be 14 years old, and active members must be 18 years old.

Aside from that, no further credentials are required, including prior firefighting experience. 

Any other skills and credentials you possess should help you perform better as a volunteer firefighter. Your additional skills will add some multidisciplinary extra to your giving. The extra skill you have to give could be the difference between a saved or lost life. 

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Must I begin a physical training program before applying to become a volunteer firefighter? 

This is one tricky part that has always bothered lots of people who would like to join the firefighters but would consider themselves physically unfit.  

The answer to this is both yes and no because you need to be in your best form to perform optimally, especially as a volunteer firefighter, but not being in your best form does not take away your ability to lend a hand where needed. It’s somewhat complex. 

Firefighting is a strenuous physical exercise. While you are not under an obligation to participate in a specific program, conditioning will help you meet the physical requirements for becoming a firefighter.

As a result, join one of the local gyms or fitness clubs. You can utilize our in-station fitness center for free after you become a volunteer fireman. 

How many firefighters do we have in the United States? (How many are career firefighters, and how many are volunteer firefighters?) 

According to the United States Fire Administration, an estimated 1,115,000 firefighters (career: 370,000; volunteer: 745,000) as of the 2018 count. This they know because the USFA is the agency in charge of monitoring the issue of fires in the United States.  

The United States Fire Administration (USFA) collects data from a range of sources in order to give information and analysis on the condition and scale of the fire problem in the US.

The data originates from a weighting method employed by NFPA in their estimation calculation and an annual survey sent out to fire departments.

Full-time firefighters, regardless of assignment (e.g. suppression, prevention/inspection, administrative), were defined as career firefighters in this poll. 

Career firefighters working for public municipal fire departments were included in this study; private fire brigades were excluded, and volunteer firefighters were defined as any active part-time (on-call or volunteer) firefighters. Volunteers who are actively interested in firefighting were categorized as active volunteers.  

Volunteer firefighters comprised 74 percent of the overall firefighting force or 745,000 people. Most 745,000 volunteers (95 percent) work in departments safeguarding less than 25,000 people. Over half of the volunteers are tasked with defending less than 2,500 individuals. 

SEE ALSO: 15 Best FireFighter Retirement Gift In 2023

How many fire departments are there in the U.S.? 

According to the National Fire Protection Association’s 2018 National Fire Experience Survey, the United States has an estimated 30,310 fire departments.

Only 12% of all departments are entirely professional or mainly career, yet they safeguard 60% of the population in the United States, whereas 88% of departments are largely volunteer or all-volunteer, and they protect 40% of the people. 

  • 2,044 departments (6.7%) are all career
  • 1,480 departments (4.9%) are mostly career
  • 4,886 departments (16.1%) are mostly volunteer
  • 21,900 departments (72.3%) are all volunteer 

Do volunteer firefighters get paid? 

This is where it can sometimes get pretty uncertain because, in many places, volunteer firefighters are generally unpaid.

In some other places, they are also given a stipend, while others who don’t provide some benefits in the form of aid or assistance to those who may get injured during the work. 

Some work with the communal understanding that volunteer firefighters save residents millions in salaries and benefits each year.

Additionally, having a local fire company helps to lower homeowner insurance rates. 

Top highest paying cities for volunteer firefighter jobs 

The bulk of Volunteer Firefighter salaries presently varies between $23,500 (25th percentile) and $40,000 (75th percentile), with top earners (90th percentile) earning $49,500 yearly in the United States, according to Zip Recruiter.  

The average compensation for a volunteer firefighter ranges widely (up to $16,500), implying that there may be several prospects for growth and higher pay dependent on skill level, region, and years of experience. 

Topping the list is Mountain View, CA, with Lakes, AK, and San Francisco CA close behind in the second and third positions. 

1) Mountain View, CA($41,988) 

Investing in education, training, and prevention, the Mountain View Fire Department aims to save lives and property, preserve the environment, and reduce the danger of fire and natural catastrophe. Mountain View pays volunteer firefighters an annual salary of $41,988.

Do volunteer firefighters get paid? haha! yes, they do. 

2) Lakes, AK($41,535) 

The West Lakes Fire Department in Big Lake, Alaska, offers the town firefighting and emergency response services. The objective of the Fire Department is to avoid the loss of lives and property.  

The West Lakes Fire Department also responds to medical emergencies, motor vehicle accidents, rescue calls, hazardous materials events, and fires. The WLFD pays volunteer firefighters an annual salary of $41,535. 


3) San Francisco, CA($41,366) 

The San Francisco Fire department describes its mission as one that was created “to protect the lives and property of the people of San Francisco and its visitors from fires, natural disasters, accidents, hazardous materials incidents, and other causes requiring a rapid and skilled response by land or water.”

Volunteer firefighters of the San Francisco Fire department are paid an annual salary of $41,366.  

4) Santa Clara, CA($40,887) 

The Santa Clara Fire department models itself as compassionate members of the community who protect and enhance the quality of life for the people they serve.

They provide caring, customer-oriented service to protect life, property, and the environment.

The Fire Department pays volunteer firefighters $40,887 as an annual salary. 

5) Washington, DC($40,335) 

Washington DC Fire Department strives in its mission to preserve life and promote health and safety through excellent handling of situations that could lead to fires, and suppression of fires, should they occur.

Washington DC Fire department pays volunteer firefighters an annual stipend of $40,335. 

6) Los Angeles, CA($39,871) 

The LAFD is one of the country’s most prestigious fire departments. It also runs several specialized volunteer programs within the LAFD that you can become involved in.

The call type that enables victims to your is reserved when the LAFD receives a report of a building or structure actively burning.  

Due to the low frequency, these metrics are reported every quarter. The LAFD pays volunteer firefighters a salary of $ 39,871 annually.

7) Fremont, CA($39,808) 

The Fremont Fire Department is charged with delivering emergency fire, medical, rescue, and life safety services promptly. Emergency services are provided by 13 active fire companies operating out of 11 strategically situated fire stations across the city. Freemont Fire Department pays its volunteer firefighters an annual salary of $39,808.  

8) Jersey City, NJ($39,351) 

The Jersey City Fire Department is the biggest in the state of New Jersey, and it protects the city of Jersey City from fire. The department is responsible for a total area of 21 square miles (54 km2) and a population of 261,940 people, making it the second-largest city in New Jersey behind Newark.

Jersey City Fire Department pays its volunteer firefighters an annual take-home of $39,351. 

9) Green River, WY($39,151) 

The Green River Fire Department models itself as one that provides for the safety and health of the City of Green River and our visitors through professional emergency response, fire prevention, education, and the environment. 

There are now 36 volunteer firemen on the Green River Fire Department. The Fire Department is a first-responder agency. Throughout the year, the department engages in a variety of training hours, the public servant calls, and fire prevention events in addition to emergency calls.

The Green River Fire department pays volunteer firefighters an annual salary of $39,151. 

10) San Buenaventura, CA($39,149) 

The Ventura City Fire Department is the oldest in Ventura County, as well as one of the oldest in the state of California. The Monumental Fire Company was founded on June 8, 1875, with 53 members working under the direction of Fire Chief B.T. Williams.  

The Monumental Fire Company turned over all of its equipment to the newly established City of Ventura in 1878, giving birth to the City of Ventura Fire Department. The Ventura City Fire Department has within it some volunteer firefighters who are paid $39,149 annually.

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Firefighting involves much more than just responding to fires and quenching them. It also involves using basic knowledge that must have been learned in high school.

Another important thing to note is that firefighters are not all men, as there are women who are firefighters now.

To answer the question ” do firefighters get paid?” this article shows that firefighters get paid with more than others.