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Family Guide

Child sitting on Fire Truck

The Following is the introduction to the Family Guide created by the National Volunteer Fire Council. The Fire Guide was designed for family members of Volunteer Fire and EMS personnel as a resource for how to process and prepare for some of the changes that their families might experience now that their loved one has joined the volunteer ranks!

Family Guide Introduction

Congratulations — your family member has decided to become a volunteer firefighter! Whether you are excited, nervous, or just aren’t sure how you are feeling, this guide will help you navigate the volunteer fire family life that you just became a part of so you will know what to expect and how to adapt to the lifestyle changes you will face.

The decision to be a volunteer responder is something that will touch your entire family, in some ways you may expect and in other ways you may not. While any volunteer work is noble, charitable, and honorable, volunteer firefighting goes beyond the average volunteer work. It becomes a lifestyle. The implications of this affect not only the individual volunteer, but also their family. Erratic schedules, missed family events, and concern for their loved one’s safety all become part of everyday life for family members; these are changes that may be hard for some to adjust to or fully understand.

Being a volunteer firefighter means your loved one is choosing to:

  • Serve at a moment’s notice, not when it’s scheduled and convenient

  • Spend extra hours training for safety and expertise

  • Put himself or herself in dangerous situations to help those in need

  • Bond with fellow volunteers, working closely together to keep everyone safe

  • Make a contribution to the community

This guide is intended for spouses, children, parents, siblings, or significant others of volunteer and on-call or call responders. Throughout this guide we will share input from volunteer firefighters and their family members. You will see that it takes the support of the whole family to ensure that volunteer responders can serve their community and stay safe while doing it.

Even with the challenges and adjustments, having a volunteer firefighter in your family is exciting, rewarding, and often presents situations unique to a fire service family. We thank you for your willingness to share your family member with your local community. We hope this guide will help you understand what you may not know, navigate the rough spots, and celebrate the sweet ones.

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