There are few greater demonstrations of altruism than volunteering for a good cause. Whether it’s for firefighting teams, first responders or something else, volunteers give their time and energy to promote a cause they believe in, without expecting monetary compensation.

National Volunteer Month, which takes place every April worldwide, is a time to not only demonstrate your appreciation for those who selflessly serve but also to volunteer for a just cause.

Here, we’ll talk about the history of National Volunteer Month and explain how you can volunteer some of your own time as a firefighter.

"The appearance of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement."“The appearance of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.”

The history of National Volunteer Month

The origins of National Volunteer Month harken back to 1943 when Canada held its first National Volunteer Week. The event intended to bring attention to and honor women who volunteered during World War II. These individuals would tend to the wounded soldiers and help collect supplies for the war effort.

The week didn’t garner much attention until the United States tried to revive the holiday in 1974. This period was soon expanded into National Volunteer Month. By 1990, the month was recognized across the world.

What volunteer firefighters do

If you volunteer as a firefighter, you may find yourself doing a wide range of activities to help out. Many volunteer firefighters, in addition to helping put out fires, might:

  • Check on those who may need help at their homes.
  • Deal with hazardous materials.
  • Provide medical assistance to the injured.
  • Help with search and rescue missions.
  • Educate others on fire safety.
  • Maintain firefighting equipment.

How you can become a volunteer firefighter

The process for volunteering is relatively straightforward, so make sure you follow these steps.

Ensure you’re prepared

Being a volunteer firefighter takes more than just will — these individuals must be physically fit enough to carry heavy objects and/or people, able to respond to emergency calls at any hour of the day or night and stay calm in intense situations.

Volunteer firefighters often undergo training before they’re allowed to serve. Make sure you’re prepared for rigorous physical and mental instruction.

At the very least, you need to:

  • Be over 18 years of age.
  • Pass a background check.
  • Have a high school education or equivalent.
  • Own a driver’s license.

Contact your local fire department

Call your local fire department (using the non-emergency number) and be prepared to ask questions. For example, ask if there are any openings for volunteers, what the requirements are and how many hours you’re expected to put in. It would be wise to inquire about any residency restrictions and what the screening process entails.

Go through the application process

This one’s simple: Fill out and submit an application. You can ask the fire department’s volunteer coordinator or visit their website for information.

Pass a screening

This typically includes a background check, drug test, fitness exam and answering questions like you would in a job interview.

Undergo training

You’ll need to learn the necessary skills before you can begin. This commonly includes coursework. You can also attend conferences and educate yourself with reading materials.

If you manage to pass all these steps, congratulations! You’re now prepared to volunteer for a community-oriented cause you can be proud of.

This National Volunteer Month, offer your skills to a fire department or cause of your choice

Naturally, you don’t have to wait until National Volunteer Month to offer your time and energy to a good cause, but there’s no better time than April. You may find giving back to your community to be a wonderfully rewarding experience.