Get Involved: Join the Pawlet Volunteer Fire Department

Why Volunteer?

Joining the Pawlet Volunteer Fire Department offers some unique opportunities. Volunteer to:

  • Make your community safer by making our fire department stronger.
  • Learn valuable skills that can help you on the job and in everyday life.
  • Serve your community. Being a firefighter means helping your neighbors, often in their hour of greatest need.
  • Meet some good people and become a part of our tight-knit crew.
  • Keep our homes affordable. A volunteer fire department keeps insurance rates down, and saves the town from having to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of tax money on career firefighters. Many people complain about high taxes and home ownership costs, volunteer firefighters actually do something about it.

If you live or work in Pawlet and are willing to dedicate some time to your community, consider joining our department! Many hands make light work, new volunteers are ALWAYS needed!

Who Can Become a Firefighter?

Anyone can volunteer their time with the fire department by helping us at events and with other tasks, but being a firefighter takes more. To be a firefighter, you must be over 18 (if not, see "What if I'm not 18 yet?" below), and you must be willing to make time for the fire department. You do not need to promise to make it to every single drill, meeting, and call to be a firefighter, but you do need to be committed to making your best effort.

If you wish to participate in structural firefighting, wildland firefighting, or rescue operations, you should be able-bodied and fit enough for this physically demanding work. But if you are not very fit or are physically disabled in some way, don't count yourself out! There are many valuable roles in the fire service that are not especially physically demanding.

Both men and women serve as Pawlet firefighters, and all roles on our department are open to any gender.

Last but not least, Pawlet firefighters must be "of good moral character," as our department bylaws put it. Your duties as a firefighter will place you in contact with children, vulnerable adults, and in the homes of people unfamiliar to you. To be a firefighter, the department must know of no reason why you shouldn't be trusted in such situations.

What Happens When I Volunteer?

When you volunteer, you will talk to a firefighter who will make sure you meet the basic criteria for membership, answer any questions you have, and give you an application form. Once you submit an application at our monthly meeting, a one-month probationary period will begin. During this time, you will join us for trainings and start to learn the ropes. At our monthly meeting the month after you apply, you will be eligable to join our department, and the firefighters will vote on your application.

What is Expected of Me?

It is expected that every member will respond to all calls they are available to answer, and be present for trainings, meetings, and fundraising events whenever possible. We understand that work and family committments may take precidence, all we ask for is a good-faith effort. We also expect all members to learn and follow department procedures, and to adopt the professional demeanor and can-do attitude that is the hallmark of our fire department.

Do I Need Firefighting Experience?

No! All you need is commitment and a willingness to learn.

Do I Get Paid?

No. Pawlet is an all-volunteer outfit. Everyone on our department donates their time without compensation. Most of us find that serving is a reward unto itself.

How Much Training Do I Have to Do?

We require that every member maintains a current CPR/basic first aid certification. Beyond that, how much training you take on is up to you. You can learn the basics right at the Pawlet firehouse. The more advanced skills of the fire service are learned through formal classes offered by the Vermont Fire Academy. The department pays for any fire service-related courses you choose to take.

The importance of training is strongly empasized on the Pawlet VFD. We view continuously building skills and knowledge as the key to effective and safe emergency operations in the ever-changing fire service environment.

I Don't Live in the Pawlet Fire District, Can I Still Join?

Yes, you can, but we strongly encourage prospective volunteers to join the fire department that is closest to wherever they live or work. It makes little sense for you to rush miles away when your pager goes off, and to be standing idly by when an emergency presents itself right next door.

What If I'm Not 18 Yet?

Pawlet has a junior program for aspiring firefighters under the age of 18. Mature, responsible, and committed young people over the age of 15 may be considered for this program. As a junior firefighter, you are very much a member of the department. You train right alongside adult firefighters, are issued turnout gear, and respond to emergency scenes alongside other firefighters. Junior firefighters are not allowed to perform certain tasks for safety reasons, but junior firefighters have proven themselves to be great assets at emergencies. When a junior member turns 18, they may apply for full membership at our next monthly meeting.

Your parent or guardian must sign a release form if you wish to become a junior firefighter, so if this sounds like something you would like to pursue, we encourage you to discuss it with your parents first.

I'm Ready! How Do I Join Up?

Talk to any firefighter, call Chief Weiss at 325-7070 or the station at 325-3222, or come by the firehouse any Tuesday evening at 7pm. We'll answer any questions you have, and if you are ready, can start you on the road to becoming a member of our department.