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    Default Tuition Reimbursement/Reduction/Grants for Volunteers

    Hi everyone,

    I'm currently in Sarasota, FL. I want to become a volunteer firefighter, but I just looked up the cost of the fire college program at the local colleges. They range from $2.5k to $4.5k, which is out of my price range for now.

    I'm not looking to be a career firefighter; I just want to volunteer. Is there a reduced tuition program or grant for potential volunteer firefighters?

    Thanks for your help in advance.

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    In Oklahoma you don't have to go through any academy to volunteer. I would go to the department you want to volunteer for and ask if it is required to volunteer.

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    VFDs will train you at no charge.

    It may be in-house non-certification training.

    It may be in-house certification level training.

    or they may send you through a state certification-level training program out of the house possibly at the county level or through a multi-department class at a central point. How rapidly this occurs will depend on if the state charges the department for the course or if the state provides the course for free, the availability and proximity of the courses(s) and in many cases your activity level and seniority on the department.

    Or the department may use a combination of all three.

    Most VFDs do not use or simply do not have the money to send a member through a compressed academy like you seem to be referring. Those are generally reserved for career departments that do not have an academy. Down here LSU has a recruit academy in Baton Rouge that is used by small career or combo departments for their full-time staff.

    Most outside training for volunteers departments is done by a state training agency over a period of time, say once or twice a week at night.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 05-29-2011 at 09:54 PM.
    Train to fight the fires you fight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by larsen2430 View Post
    In Oklahoma you don't have to go through any academy to volunteer. I would go to the department you want to volunteer for and ask if it is required to volunteer.
    Thanks for the helpful replies.

    I went to my local fire department, and they told me that they do not offer any type of training. They also said that they typically take about 6 volunteers a year or so.

    I guess it might be a state-to-state thing, but most fire departments in FL aren't hiring at all (supposedly 200+ applicants for every couple of job openings). I'm very hesitant to spend $2.5k-$4k+ on a fire college program, especially if there's a slight chance that I won't even to be able to volunteer at my local fire department. This is something I wanted to do since I was a little kid so I'm gonna try to find better alternatives.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gatorman1122 View Post
    Thanks for the helpful replies.

    I went to my local fire department, and they told me that they do not offer any type of training. They also said that they typically take about 6 volunteers a year or so.

    I guess it might be a state-to-state thing, but most fire departments in FL aren't hiring at all (supposedly 200+ applicants for every couple of job openings). I'm very hesitant to spend $2.5k-$4k+ on a fire college program, especially if there's a slight chance that I won't even to be able to volunteer at my local fire department. This is something I wanted to do since I was a little kid so I'm gonna try to find better alternatives.
    When they said they didn't offer training I assume they were referring to out of the house training. I would hope that they do in-house non-certification training to bring tier staff to the point where they need to operate.

    Did they say why they only take 6 a year? Do they have a roster limit? Are there any other nearby departments that may take you?
    Train to fight the fires you fight.

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    In the People's Communist Republic of Florida, you are not a Firefighter until you complete their State-Mandated training program, or challenge a certification examination.

    You could posess every Pro-Board or IFSAC credential known to mankind, or be a 20-year firefighter from the busiest Engine or Truck on the face of the earth, but it's still no good for the idiots in charge down there. I think the heat and humidity have killed their brain cells.

    And if memory serves correctly, from speaking to other Florida FF's, career or volunteer, no Florida State Credentials, no ride the BRT's.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    In NY, on the Vollie side, most training is via county (local) state instructors, funded by the state. The catch is that the state will only fund so many hours each year (and sometimes that's a battle). FF1, despite being around 100 hours, requires close to 300 instructor hours by the time the live burn and other skills evolutions are complete.

    If your county only got 900 hours this year, and wants to run two FF1's, that leave just 300 hours for everything else you might want to run.

    Other stuff (like insurance EVOC) is also free, or carries a minimal charge. About the only thing we're left to fund individually is travel to the training site, and some departments will let the new guys use a utility vehicle for that purpose.

    On the other hand, you need zero to be accepted into a VFD in the first place. "We'll train you."
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    Quote Originally Posted by gatorman1122 View Post
    Thanks for the helpful replies.

    I went to my local fire department, and they told me that they do not offer any type of training. They also said that they typically take about 6 volunteers a year or so.

    I guess it might be a state-to-state thing, but most fire departments in FL aren't hiring at all (supposedly 200+ applicants for every couple of job openings). I'm very hesitant to spend $2.5k-$4k+ on a fire college program, especially if there's a slight chance that I won't even to be able to volunteer at my local fire department. This is something I wanted to do since I was a little kid so I'm gonna try to find better alternatives.
    Well ya know man if you really want to be a firefighter do the training some offer fin-aid so you could look into that as well. The more training you have the better your chances. Best of luck!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by gatorman1122 View Post
    Hi everyone,

    I'm currently in Sarasota, FL. I want to become a volunteer firefighter, but I just looked up the cost of the fire college program at the local colleges. They range from $2.5k to $4.5k, which is out of my price range for now.

    I'm not looking to be a career firefighter; I just want to volunteer. Is there a reduced tuition program or grant for potential volunteer firefighters?

    Thanks for your help in advance.
    In FL you have to have Firefighter I cert. I volunteer in Hillsborough county at the moment and the have a Fire I program free of charge to volunteers. Its five months I believe and it is one night a week and then all day on a saturday or something like that. I didnt do it because I went to an academy and am currently looking for career employment.

    The other post that said about the job market in FL is very tough.. the 200 plus applicant is bout correct. The city of Orlando had a hiring not too long ago and got 2500 applicants.

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    Gatorman, It's sad, but you just live in the wrong place. Here in Maryland, all Fire, Rescue, and EMS Training is Free. All you need to qualify to take Training Courses is that you must be a Member of a Fire Department before applying for a course. As a matter of policy, Maryland's Training System does not permit anyone to take training unless you have been accepted by a FD/VFD first. This allows us to avoid putting time and resources into training someone who can't use what he/she learned.......
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    Quote Originally Posted by hwoods View Post
    Gatorman, It's sad, but you just live in the wrong place. Here in Maryland, all Fire, Rescue, and EMS Training is Free. All you need to qualify to take Training Courses is that you must be a Member of a Fire Department before applying for a course. As a matter of policy, Maryland's Training System does not permit anyone to take training unless you have been accepted by a FD/VFD first. This allows us to avoid putting time and resources into training someone who can't use what he/she learned.......
    That's one of the good things of living in Maryland. You don't have to pay for the training except the only real payment is taking the time to take the training. That is dedication.

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    NY is very much the same. Any fire courses given locally are free. Courses at the state fire academy are free, but there is a nominal fee for room and board.

    EMS is pretty much free, and if there is a college willing to participate, you can even get some college credit.

    Paramedic will usually end up costing you something, as it's usually a full college course, with all the accompanying fees.

    The state firefighters and chiefs organizations often offer seminars at a small fee.
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    This is where over regulation and requirements crash at crossroads with local and department budgets.

    The State Fire Marshalls and Federal code and regulation agencies pass down the new requirements and those local governments and departments are forced to meet them, but cannot pass the increased costs to their taxpayers, unlike the agencies that make up the new requirements.

    Frankly I am at the point where Fire Administration, and NFPA need to declare a temporary moratorium in any new codes and regulations.

    Local governments small and large are calling a halt to equipment purchases and new hires due to the reality that budgets are suffering everywhere.

    Why doesn't the fire service train itself to begin to slow itself down. it is regulating itself out of existence.

    It may come to a point where these local governments may have to put their support into a combination department versus an all career one and drop their requirements on response times, etc.

    REality is kicking in everywhere and those thumping their chest about how it has to be a certain way like the recent years maybe find themselves the logical choice to be first out the door by those local governments. Making more costly demands has a definite way to make local officials turn against you. Especially when so many other agencies are putting the same pressures on them. Like......

    Sustainable development projects, cap n trade, population issues, border and neighboring jurisdictions issues, higher fuel and energy demands and their rules; education restructuring, international ID's, food controls and laws, poverty and zoning issues and since the census, new redistricting is complicating so many aspects for local and county governments.

    So in my opinion the fire service needs to hang back a bit and refrain from making more requirements or those entities that fund the fire departments may end up telling their constituents that they may experience longer response times and lower capabilities when responding to their communities emergencies, due to the fact that they cannot afford to offer the same level as in the past.

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    As much as I love being a volunteer firefighter, paying to be one is not a wise or worthy investment. In the Northeast all training is free. I even get reimbursed for my travel costs to the training sites.
    Simply put, if Sarasota won't pay for your training, then they don't value volunteer's service and they are not worthy of your time.

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    in Wisconsin the department that I'm on sends you to classes put on at the local tech. college. I think they even get money from the state to do so, you just need to be a member of the department and we're hurting for volunteers. Right now we have openings for 4 more guys and have no applications the last time I checked. The turnover is so fast here they can't find enough. Our dept. has 40 spots, I've been on for a year and a half now, and since I've been on we had to find replacements for 8 spots. Just can't seem to hold on to them here. They even pay you to go to training, granted it's only minimum wage but you're still getting paid. I LOVE MY DEPARTMENT!!!!

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