SAN ANGELO, Texas — Texas has 1,517 registered Fire Departments according to the U.S Fire Administration (USFA), and bordering on 70% of those are Volunteer Fire Departments.

A Volunteer Firefighter is a member of the community who offers to give their time to their local fire department for free. They are expected to respond to emergency calls and receive the proper training, just like a career firefighter. The difference is they usually do it in their time off from their paid jobs. They may work shifts at the station and/or respond to calls from their home or job site.

Being a Volunteer Firefighter is no less valuable than being a paid Firefighter and there is not much difference in their training or capabilities. The real difference lies in the level of time commitment, a Volunteer Firefighter has additional obligations, as well as experience levels, generally, a career firefighter has more experience but not always.

Volunteer Firefighters have very little off time between their paid jobs and being a volunteer, especially with all the required training which can cause extreme exhaustion. On the other side, becoming a Volunteer Firefighter allows individuals to benefit from free training which could be used in their daily lives and could be a good start to a competitive career firefighter position. These firefighters allow the state to cover more ground and stretch its fire service budget further.