I recently tested with a small department in the area that has only 2 stations. They do have a modest staff of full-time firefighters but combine that with a good volunteer/paid on-call staff.

Anyway, I recently tested and made it to the oral board and I feel my odds are fairly good given the # of applicants interviewing vs. how many they would like to bring on board.

While waiting to interview I did overhear a Lt. speaking with another candidate about volunteer turnover. He mentioned their turnover problems had diminished since they made new volunteers sign a contract committing to 2 years of service prior before being able to test elsewhere. The contract would be signed before you enter FF1 training. I wasn't able to get the details of the contract, and obviously didn't ask given how that might appear, but it has me concerned. Not because I have any intention of getting free training then leaving them high and dry. In fact, whether I got FT work with a larger department in the area I'd still like to be involved with this department. However, like many volunteers, my ultimate goal is obviously to get a FT paid position. Given that, I wouldn't want to turn down any opportunity to test with any of the local departments who are looking to hire. And if given the opportunity, I would obviously jump at any chance I was given to actually be a paid FF.

I'm not sure what I should do if offered the position. Obviously, volunteering would give me experience and FF1 and EMT-B training. And turning it down could prove disasterous if I wasn't actually hired by any of the larger departments in the area that will be hiring this spring/summer. Most of the larger departments in the area don't require EMT-B before applying since they put you through their own academy regardless of your previous training.

I obviously can completely understand where the VFD is coming from. They don't want people receiving free training then bailing on them. Is anyone aware of what these contracts typically entail? If they just require you to pay the dept. back for your training if you leave before the commitment period I wouldn't have a problem with that. Given the chance at FT employment paying a few thousand dollars would be worth it, and it would only be fair. But could a contract somehow prevent me from testing? And if I did test. Say this spring (before I would even complete FF1 with the VFD). Would I be looked down on by the hiring agency if they knew I was applying with them while still in volunteer training with another department?

I'd appreciate any advice.