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Volunteer Dragonslayers

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The mythical age of the dragons, warlocks and sorcers which made a large part of our childhood fantasies went away when we packed up our box of toys, put on our big person pants and trodded off into the adult world.  However, some of us have had the extreme fortune of continuing on battling that fire-breathing dragon into our adulthood.  Though we replaced the plastic sword and thin midieval suit of armour for a more accepted means of protection; the fire hose and bunker gear. We still get to rescue the damsel in distress and most importantly, save the community from the unforgiving modern-day dragon.

You can trace our firefighting roots in the United States back to 1630 in Boston. However the most prominent fire service member was none other than Benjamin Franklin, After a huge fire in Philadelphia in 1736, Franklin created a fire brigade called “The Union Fire Company” with 30 volunteers. The first full-fleded volunteer firefighter in America was Isaac Paschall.  The idea of volunteer fire brigades gained popularity. These citizens were able to afford to purchase equipment and pay fines for missing meetings and fires.

The National Fire Service community has changed and improved since those humble beginnings. However, the art of fighting fires has only slightly changed.  The greatest asset of any fire department is still it’s people.  It doesn’t matter how big the equipment or level of protection, without people to put on that gear, drive that engine, educate the community about prevention etc. our modern communities would still be at great risk of the DRAGON.

The SW Division realizes how much we rely on the volunteer fire service community.  But, the old saying is “you won’t miss it till it’s gone”    We can not afford to leave this nationwide problem to chance.  The I-Chiefs and Divisions work together to secure education, training, prevention tools, leadership and mentoring to our volunteers just as we do the career section.  The legislation we fight for helps all fire service.  Let’s keep this campaign alive and focus on growing our volunteer dragon slayers all over the country.

Volunteer Facts 

69% of firefighters in the country are volunteer.

Small towns (less than 10,000 population) rely on all volunteer departments

Some communities rely on a volunteer departments as their first line of defense for many types of emergencies besides fire

Hours of training required by a volunteer firefighter rivals that of a career firefighter.  The requirement of 36 hours in 1980 has skyrocketed to a required 250 hours (requirements vary state to state)




The crisis of the volunteer fire service is not just a community problem.

If we don’t recruit, train, educate and retain the volunteers it will become a national crisis.. if it hasn’t already.


There will always be the need for municipal career fire departments.  It’s a community service and the large cities attract more residents, who pay more taxes, who require more departments.

The volunteer is held to the same standards as a career firefighter. When you need a firefighter, you don’t call 911 and ask whether the dept is paid or volunteer, you’ll never know the difference. The quality of service is 99% the same with either.

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