REVIEW: 10 Step Guide to Volunteering

I stumbled across a guide to becoming a volunteer firefighter while reviewing a list of web resources from and found it to be very interesting.

First, inasmuch as the guide was created for potential volunteer candidates, I thought it interesting that the site was connected to — the familiar job search engine. That’s not to say that it’s a bad thing, I just found it to be somewhat interesting.

Next, I found it interesting that the author, or at least, co-author of the 10-Step program was a two-year veteran of the volunteer fire service. While I appreciate his fresh insight, I also felt his perspective was somewhat limited as outlined in my next point of interest.

As I was reviewing the first section of the guide titled: “Learn about the Fire-Rescue Industry,” I noted that the author highlighted fundraising as a significant function of the volunteer firefighter just three paragraphs into the ten-section guide. While fundraising may certainly be an important part of some volunteers’ activities, the degree of necessity varies greatly by department.

Although I think the author is right on the mark that prospective candidates should do their homework before signing on the dotted line, with emphasizing and entering fundraising into the conversation so early, I have to ask: Is this our best approach? There are simply too many other positive parts of our business that could be used to highlight the benefits of volunteering. Fundraising is one of those functions that some volunteers must do when they’re not doing what they signed up to do — fighting fires and providing emergency services.

I readily admit that it’s not easy to succinctly describe everything we do without detailing local considerations. However, I don’t know that has a firm grasp of the positive principles of marketing the fire service, as demonstrated by the use of the photo depicting the fire engine in the sink hole in “Step 5: Be Aware of Your Limitations.”

Nonetheless, I feel that overall, the guide offers valuable insight into the world of volunteer firefighting and any effort to draw attention to the opportunities available to serve your community — are good efforts.

The guide outlines 10 individual tips for preparing to join our ranks including:

  • Do your homework
  • You gotta have desire
  • Knowing where your own interests lie
  • Preparing mentally for the job
  • Being aware of your physical and emotional limitations
  • The need for physical conditioning
  • The importance of life balance and effective time management
  • Bringing more to the table than the ability to hump hose and break down doors
  • And, the importance of asking questions throughout the entire process.

Having participated in dozens of firefighter candidate interviews in my career, I only wish that more recruits would heed the advice that this guide offers.

Take a look and let me know what you think.

Here’s a link to Step 1 of the guide:

TOOLKIT: Click here to learn more about creating a sample Prospective Member Guide that tells candidates everything they need to know about joining your fire department.