My experience with a small, rural volunteer fire company in NY has left me completely disgusted and disheartened.  "We're only volunteers" is the excuse for everything from not training to crass favoritism. Of course they never decline the tax money with "we're only volunteers."

So I need to know: are ALL volunteer fire companies just bullshit? Or are there some that really do the job and do it "professionally" and with integrity?

If you know of a kick-ass small, rural volunteer fire company serving between 2000 and 3500 people, PLEASE write and tell me about it.

I'd like to believe that the volunteer fire service isn't entirely half-scam and half-sham, and a complete waste of time.

Be safe.


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Thanks, David.
Sounds good.
What are the things you see about them that make you recommend them?

Nice work on that website!

"Train as if you life depends on it." That's the quote of the day, Marty.
I was a member 3 years and whenever I suggested more or better training the response I got was "If you ask people to train, everybody will quit."
I'm not kidding. Those words exactly.

What some folks don't fully appreciate is that EVERYTHING you do has an impact on safety because safety is an ATTITUDE. Always on the watch.No cutting corners. Do it right EVERY time.

Thanks for checking out the website. When I was taking my essentials of firefighting, my instructor said that saying, and is prob one of the most truest sayings of the fire service. I can't believe the reaction to you suggesting more training, it's what is going to maybes save your own life, or someone elses.
Awesome response Eric that I do not believe could have been stated any better!!
that you do bill
Unfortunately, most fire departments (at least in my experience) are cyclical. Some years are good, some not so good. My department was in tip-top shape a few years ago. The training was beyond extraordinary. The members who put in a little effort got back a lot of good knowledge and experience in return. Unfortunately, a few people who seemed mild mannered enough to be in charge wound up in way over their heads, and their egos got the best of them. They decided that those who did not bow to their ideals should be eliminated, and as a result of b.s. charges or constant harassment, they actually succeeded in getting rid of some of the best leaders there. And now, things are a mess. Not every day has bright sunny skies in volly-world. When a department is on a down-swing, it's easy to get discouraged. And the easy road is to quit. But a true firefighter, one who has strong values and a belief that we are not here for ourselves, but for our community, will ride it out. Do your best. Train like it's the real deal. If you're not getting the training at your department, look elsewhere. Earn the respect of those around you by setting an example. Be a leader through your actions. Improvise, adapt, and overcome. And eventually, your peers will put you in a position to make changes. So make positive ones. Create an environment where everyone learns and thrives, where we all succeed through teamwork. Set up a chain of command that breeds strong, competent, and safe officers. And never stop learning. It's easy to knock a department when times are rough. But the hardest part of being in the volunteer service isn't getting it back to a good place - it's keeping it there. Keep your chin up. It's a long windy road, but when you get to the end, your brothers and sisters will be safer, and so will the community you serve. And that is what being a kick-ass volunteer firefighter is really about.
I couldn't believe it either.
I did a hitch with the USCG in the waybackwhen, and I work around horses quite a bit. I've also taught martial arts a long while. All those things have taught me the importance of safety, which generally means you follow certain rules without exception, even when you "think" you're "safe." That means PRACTICE.
To find such a complacent or negative attitude about training in a fire company quite stunned me --- especially after the EXCELLENT training I received from County/State Instructors and at the Fire Academy.

Thanks, Daniel.
I never quit; I go down swinging.
But once a department has eliminated everyone except the chief's pals and has achieved a homogenous negative attitude, I don't think there's anything that can be done.
Our top EMT (90% response rate) actually got reprimanded for doing EMS training on EMS training night! Another member was forced to quit because he allegedly took a course at the fire academy without the Chief's "specific permission" (no such permission is required in the by-laws as long as you're paying for the course yourself.) So they actually got rid of him for doing too much training!

Sam from East Great Plain Vol. Fire Dept. in Norwich CT. My department is like every other dept that you can find. We always have fun in our down time, but when it comes to responding to a call, we answer like true professionals. In some cases it really depends on the members of the dept thats make firefighting more enjoyable. Ive been a member of three different departments and this one by far is the most enjoyable.
Sounds good, Sam.

What is it, in your view, that makes the response "professional?"
And what makes it "enjoyable?"


I don't consider my department any more kick ass than any others but, we do require a lot from our members. A 80 hour basic introductory class is mandatory before they are allowed to make entry on fires. Our training meets the requirements for basic volunteer firefighter status, but we train to the more rigid state standards for career firefighters. This helps with the cohesiveness between our career people and the volunteer members.
Thanks, Oldman.

Mandatory basics, absolutely.
Me, I don't want ANYBODY responding to calls who doesn't have at least that.
I think training to a higher standard than necessary is great.

Once I worked for a company whose motto was "We don't meet the standards; we SET them."

That's the kind of attitude I respect.


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