Looking for a community service opportunity like no other?
We help people with immediate, sometimes life-threatening needs. When someone in our community has the worst day of their life, we are there to assist, 24-7-365. Are you someone who wants to make a real difference? Are you up for a serious challenge? Not scared of a little hard work? Willing to do what it takes? That’s our thing. If it’s yours, too, we can’t wait to meet you.
Want all the details? Read on.
Who Can Become a Pawlet Firefighter?
Being a firefighter takes something very special, but the qualifications are pretty basic. You must be over 18 (if not, see “What if I’m not 18 yet?” below), you must be committed to putting in your best effort, and you must be trustworthy. That’s it!
People of any gender and background are welcomed on our agency. The PVFD does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, sex, age, religion, national origin, ancestry, marital status or physical or mental handicap that does not materially affect the ability of the applicant to perform the duties of a volunteer firefighter. Emergency operations like structural firefighting are demanding work, and require a certain level of physical aptitude. 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.
Back to that trustworthy thing: your duties as a firefighter will place you in contact with children, vulnerable adults, and in the homes of people unfamiliar to you. All members must undergo a criminal background check for this reason.
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, attend department meetings regularly, and train with us. We understand that work and family commitments will take precedence sometimes– we all have jobs and families, too. We require firefighters to log a minimum of 24 training hours each year. 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 get some awesome t-shirts and a cool license plate for your vehicle, too.
How Much Training Do I Have to Do?
We require emergency responders to log 6 training hours per quarter. 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 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. The best firefighters come to our crew with a hunger to learn, train, and 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 mature, responsible, and committed young people over the age of 15 who want to learn the ropes of the fire service. As a junior firefighter, you train alongside adult firefighters, are issued turnout gear and a pager, and help out at fires and other emergencies. The focus is on learning, and safety is priority #1 for our youngest members. When a junior member turns 18, they may apply for full membership at our next monthly meeting.
Your parent or guardian must consent for you to become a junior firefighter, so if this sounds like something for you, 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.