Volunteer to Become a Firefighter
Many children proudly proclaim their dream of becoming a firefighter “when they grow up”. It’s no secret that many adults still wonder what it would be like to don firefighting gear, go screaming down the road in a fire engine with lights and sirens, responding to emergencies in their communities. Wonder no more – become a volunteer firefighter and experience the thrill of helping your neighbors in their hour of need.
AVFRD Volunteer Firefighters are assigned to a firefighting duty crew and participate directly in emergency response activities. These individuals serve on the front line of one of the busiest and most professional volunteer fire companies in the Washington metropolitan area. As a firefighter you will respond to structural fires, brush fires, auto accidents, medical emergencies, gas leaks, car fires, elevator entrapments, rescues, and other emergency situations.
Individuals interested in this class of membership must complete the Company’s application process, a Loudoun County physical examination, and a range of firefighting training courses, including:
- AVFRD in-house Volunteer Recruit School (VRS) and recruit probationary manual.
- NFPA Hazardous Materials (HazMat) Operations course
- Virginia Emergency Medical Service (EMS) First Reasoner (FR) or Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification
- National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Firefighter 1 & 2 certification
No experience is necessary – training is provided through classroom learning, practical instruction, probationary participation with your assigned duty crew and Loudoun County Fire and Rescue fire academy.
Ready to start the adventure? Start the Process here!
What to Expect as a Probationary Firefighter
Firefighting is physically and mentally demanding work. To accomplish the firefighting mission successfully, AVFRD firefighters complete rigorous training programs, both at the Loudoun County Fire Rescue Training Center and at our stations (in-house).
Firefighter training begins in the station. New members are required to go through some basic fireground training before they are allowed to ride the apparatus, even as an observer. This initial, basic training is called “red hat” training. The red hat training covers fire hoses, ladders, protective clothing, ropes and knots, and other basic fireground operations. The emphasis is on safety. When the new member has successfully completed the red hat manual exam, three additional courses are required before the member can begin riding the apparatus as a red hat. These courses are CPR for the healthcare provider, hazardous materials for the first responder and a course in infection control.
After becoming a Red Hat, members begin formal firefighter training at the Loudoun County Fire Rescue Training Center in Leesburg, VA. Most classes are held two evenings a week and one day on the weekend. The academy has a large burn building which allows live fire exercises for realistic training. Classes are a combination of lectures in the classroom and practical, hands-on skill testing under the direction of some of Loudoun County”s most experienced fire instructors.
Firefighter I teaches the basics of firefighting including equipment use, fire behavior, ladders, extrication, rescue, ventilation and safety. One full day is devoted to automotive firefighting, and two days are devoted to rescue scenarios. Near the end of the course, two days are is spent working through the burn building, in live fire exercises. During these structure fire days, crews will face six or seven real house fires in an eight-hour shift.
If you thought that was tough, wait until you get to the Firefighter II course. The Firefighter II course teaches more advanced skills, some basic command decision making and many more structure fire scenarios. Firefighter II includes another day of structural firefighting, including standpipe evolutions and interior attacks with large diameter attack lines.
Instructor I, II & III
Instructor I helps experienced firefighters become better instructors by teaching how to teach. The course teaches teaching techniques and then requires each student to give a fire department-related presentation as part of the final exam. Instructor II & III teach how to create lesson plans and how to put together a course outline to teach classes within the fire service.
With interstate highways, railways and hazardous material processing and storage in the county, HazMat training in a must. Hazardous Materials management is taught to a variety of levels including HazMat Awareness, which teaches identification and evaluation of hazardous materials; HazMat Operations which covers containment and mitigation of hazardous materials and gross decontamination; And finally, HazMat Technician which is the most advanced level of hazardous materials training. Extensive training in supervising a hazardous materials incident and dealing with extremely difficult hazardous materials situations is conducted during the Technician level course.
Officer I, II and III
Fire service leaders require education as well. The Officer series teaches incident command, fire attack strategy and tactics, fire investigation, management, administration, human resources and other related disciplines.
Emergency Vehicle Operator Course (EVOC) II & III
Driving a fire truck isn’t quite like driving your average car, or even a large SUV. It takes special skills to handle a heavy emergency vehicle in traffic and under stressful conditions. To this end, driver candidates are certified in EVOC, and for fire apparatus, that typically includes class II (Ambulances) or class III (Pumpers and Trucks).