Who Can Become a Pawlet 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 emergency 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. 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, you must be worthy of the trust the public will put in you.
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 eligible to join our department.
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 commitments may take precedence, all we ask for is a good-faith effort. We 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 agency.
Do I Need Firefighting Experience?
No! All you need is commitment and a willingness to learn.
Do I Get Paid?
Nope. 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. You will definitely get some awesome t-shirts, too.
How Much Training Do I Have to Do?
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 ensures that robust training is available to every member, and pays for any fire service-related courses you choose to take.
The importance of training is strongly emphasized within our agency. Members will not be asked to take any actions at emergency scenes that they have not first demonstrated proficiency at in a training environment, so the best firefighters come to our crew with a hunger to build their skills.
I Don’t Live in the Pawlet Fire District, Can I Still Join?
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 membership 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 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.