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Palm Beach County Fire Rescue
405 Pike Road
West Palm Beach, FL
33411-3815

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Left edge of tabFrequently Asked Questions - Volunteer FirefightingRight edge of tab
Are Volunteers ever used in place of full-time career firefighters?
No, County mandates do not allow Volunteers to be used in place of career firefighters. Volunteers are not to be used in place of overtime for career firefighters either. The Volunteer's role is to supplement and assist the career department.
Are Volunteer Units considered "First-in" responders?
Unlike traditional Volunteer departments, we do not respond as "first-in". We are called in on those occasions where extra help is needed or the opportunity to relieve County units, usually on an extended call, arises. These occasions would include fire investigations, overhaul, fire watch, brush fires and second alarms.
Are Volunteers allowed to do ride time at County stations?
Yes, and we encourage it. However, a volunteer must be combat certified in order to ride at County stations.
What are the requirements to be combat certified?
You must hold at least a Florida State Firefighter 1 certification; complete an annual medical and fit test. Combat members must be able to dedicate time to the Battalion as the training and call response requirements are high. We offer an in-house Firefighter 1 class on a yearly basis.
What activities can non-combat members participate in?
All training, public education/safety, on-scene firefighter rehabilitation and more. Non-combat members also serve in administration, support and logistics roles.
What are the age limitations to join?
You must be 18 or older to join. We do not have forced retirement age and in fact, we welcome participation by mature volunteers.
Are uniforms provided?
We provide T-shirts, collared and polo shirts, caps, badges and jackets. Pants, belt and boots must be obtained by the members. We also allow members to purchase jumpsuits, sweaters and other County uniform items. All Volunteer uniforms and accessories are clearly marked "Volunteer." There are several local retailers as well as on-line retailers where uniform items may be obtained.
What does "ride-time" consist of?
We encourage our combat members to select a station and shift with which they are comfortable and then ride with the career firefighters as their time allows. This is a great opportunity to learn and meet some great people. Members can ride on the engine or rescue, or other units, as determined by the station officer and with the permission of a volunteer chief.
Do Volunteers actually fight fires?
Yes, Volunteers have actively fought brush fires and structure fires as requested by the Incident Commander.
What is the dress code for Volunteer activities?
For Tuesday night and other training sessions, the navy blue t-shirt is worn with the grey polo shirt. Class A (the dress shirt) is worn at most public education and safety events. At fire scenes, the blue t-shirt or jumpsuit is worn.
Under what circumstances would Volunteer be removed from the membership?
Volunteers that have not been active for an extended period of time will be asked to leave. Each situation is taken on a case by case basis. Criminal offenses are justification for immediate release. As part of a uniformed Fire Rescue service, all members must comply with County Fire Rescue regulations.
How do Volunteers get dispatched to calls?
Via pagers and/or radio. After a page is initiated by the Incident Commander, volunteers proceed to the appropriate station and respond with the requested apparatus. Volunteers are then part of the ICS for the duration of the call and follow the instructions of the Incident Commander.
Are Volunteer units ever left on scene without a County unit there?
Yes. There are occasions when this is appropriate and would be recommended by the Incident Commander.
Is there a probationary period for new members?
New members are subject to a 3 month probationary period.
Are members subject to background checks?
Yes, a criminal background check and driver history check is required.
I have New York State certifications. Are they transferable to Florida?
Not at present. Anyone with out of State certifications may challenge the Florida State Exam by contacting the Bureau of Standards in Ocala. The alternative is to attend a Firefighter 1 class.
Is there any stipend or other monetary reimbursement given to the Volunteers?
Volunteers do not receive any monetary compensation for their efforts. It is a strictly volunteer organization. On a yearly basis, awards are given out to the Volunteers that have distinguished themselves through their efforts during that year.
I live in the North part of the County. Do I always have to go to South Station?
No. Members living in the North can attend training at ST 68 in Lake Park. Members in the South attend at ST 42 in Delray. From time to time there will be a requirement to attend at ST 42.
If I attend school or for some other reason find that I can not attend regularly, will I have to leave the Battalion?
No. A leave of absence may be granted for up to 10 months. This must be requested by the member.
How do I become an Officer?
As officer positions become available, the senior staff looks towards those individuals that consistently perform above average and have the dedication and skills to lead. Every member of the Battalion has the opportunity to move up the ranks. It is based more upon skills and performance than time in the Battalion.
Does County Fire Rescue hire from the Volunteer ranks?
Many of our Volunteers have been hired as career firefighters by various fire departments including the County. Being a volunteer does not guarantee being hired, nor are any points awarded for it, but it can definitely work in your favor.
My State Certifications are about to expire. I understand that if I join the Volunteers, my certifications will remain valid. Is this the case?
You must have joined 6 months prior to the expirations. Secondly, we will only accept members if they intend to be active. We can not be a depository for keeping certifications valid if the member has no intention of being an active member.
If I join, will I get a point toward attending Palm Beach State College or another College?
After being an active member for 6 months and upon the recommendation of the Senior Officers, your application will be signed in order to obtain that point.
Will I be allowed to drive the apparatus?
Upon completion of an Emergency Vehicle Operators Course and the required driver training within the Battalion, you may become an authorized driver. For non emergency vehicles, you may be authorized to drive after the initial in house driver training. EVOC is not required for non emergency vehicles.
Is there any specialized training available?
Volunteers may attend training provided by the County, State and National fire services. On occasion, there may be a fee involved.
Are Volunteers covered by Workers Compensation Insurance?
Yes, while on duty and responding to calls.
What areas of the County do the Volunteers respond to?
The Volunteer Battalion covers the entire County on a 24-7 basis. The majority of calls range from Jupiter to Boca Raton but on occasion we have responded as far away as Pahokee.
After becoming a member, how soon will I be able to respond to calls?
After some training and evaluations, you will be allowed to respond. The timing is dependant on the individual's skills and professionalism.
How do I go about becoming a member?
Start the process by obtaining the application at www.fire-vols.org. Just follow the process as outlined. After you have the required paperwork completed you will be called in for an interview and we can get you started. The process can take up to a month as the background checks may take a while.
For more information about becoming a volunteer firefighter with Palm Beach County Fire Rescue, or to apply to become a volunteer, please visit the PBC Fire Volunteers Website.