Four Benefits of Volunteer Work Before You Decide to Promote in the Fire Service


When it comes time to begin your firefighter promotional exam prep, many people will focus on studying the books but forget about other aspects of the promotion such as the resume boosters. A great resume booster and something that might bring some joy to your life is volunteering, and we don’t mean at volunteer fire stations. 

1. Resume Booster

Some people volunteer because they love helping others. Another reason people volunteer sometimes is because they need to boost their resume. It is just a fact and there is nothing wrong with that. Volunteering for the resume boost exposes people who may not normally volunteer to new opportunities they may end up truly enjoying and doing long-term. Remember, volunteering one time is not going to boost your resume or help you prepare for your firefighter promotional exam. You will need to make some sort of significant commitment for it to have a positive impact on your prospective career advancement. 

2. Get Involved in the Community

Volunteering is a great opportunity to get out in your local community and get involved. Whether you volunteer with a local sports organization or help out in a soup kitchen, you will get the opportunity to meet people that live and work in your local community. You may even meet some high ranking officials in the fire service and make some new contacts that can potentially help you get your promotion. More importantly though, volunteering gives you the opportunity to meet the community members you will be interacting with on calls. This may make your job easier in the long run because you will already know these people so establishing trust will happen so much faster and make your patients feel safer and more comfortable as you offer them medical assistance or pull them out of a burning building. 

3. Practice Your Skills

Public speaking is feared more than death by some measures. If you are taking a fire company officer or battalion chief promotion test there is probably going to be an assessment center portion to your test. Volunteering may present you opportunities to speak in public that would be invaluable to help you prepare for a promotion. If formal public speaking opportunities aren’t available just being out and about in the public will give you the chance to work on your nonverbal skills. Your first impression makes a big imprint on anyone you come into contact with, even your assessment center evaluators. Put on a big smile, practice making a lot of eye contact and work on a nice firm handshake every opportunity you get while you are out in your community volunteering. 

4. Meet Other Firefighters

Volunteering is a great opportunity to meet other firefighters and professionals in your community. You may even be able to gain a mentor to help you with your career advancement. A lot of volunteers are retired professionals or even retired firefighters with a lot of years under their belt and a lot of knowledge to share. Don’t be afraid to use them to help you prepare for your firefighter promotional exam. Even if you cannot commit to volunteering a certain number of hours a month, don't be afraid to reach out. They may have small jobs that take just a few hours a month they need extra hands for. 

Volunteer Opportunities:

  • Install smoke detectors

  • Feed the homeless

  • Mentoring kids

  • Give presentations at local schools about firefighting

  • Volunteer EMS opportunities such as CERT 

The Takeaway

If you are hesitant to volunteer because of the time commitment, especially if you are thinking about promoting, but think of the benefits you may gain out of doing it. Remember, some volunteer opportunities can be a few hours a month while others may be a few day commitment a week. Not every volunteer opportunity is right for everybody but I encourage you to look in your local community and see where they need help. You may enjoy doing it more than you realize, and it may just be the resume booster you need to get to the rank you want in the fire service.