Volunteer Program FAQ
- Do I have to have previous training to become a volunteer firefighter?
Yes. In order to become a volunteer firefighter, you will need some courses and certifications. We have partnered with various agencies throughout the San Diego region to provide training. To view our requirements and where to fulfill them click here.
- I am having trouble finding courses to fulfill the training requirements. Do you have any resources to help me?
Yes. Along with the links provided on our Training Requirements page, our friendly and knowledgeable staff is always willing to help. You may call them at (858) 974-5999 or email at email@example.com.
- How long will it take once I submit my application to start in the program?
It typically takes three to four months from the application deadline to the Training Orientation. The process is lengthy due to the number of applicants, background checks, and medical evaluations that need to be done.
- How do I become a certified EMT/Paramedic in San Diego County?
Please contact County of San Diego Emergency Medical Services to become certified.
- I am also interested in paramedic school. Will I be able to go to paramedic school while serving in the SDCFA Volunteer Program?
Maybe, but not likely. Many volunteers in our program have attended paramedic school while attempting to stay active as a volunteer firefighter. Nearly all have found the workload of paramedic school overwhelming while trying to maintain their volunteer commitments and, as a result, have had to choose between paramedic school and volunteer service.
- I was a volunteer firefighter in another state. Do I need any specific training for the SDCFA program?
Yes. You still need all the necessary requirements to start in the program. If you have completed an IFSAC or Pro Board certified academy in another state that fulfills the Manipulative skills requirement. If you do not have this training you must take the necessary classes or attend a CA accredited academy.
- How many shifts will I have to serve?
We require a minimum of three 24 hour shifts, equivalent to 72 hours, per month.
- How long will I be expected to volunteer?
We ask that volunteer reserve firefighters with the San Diego County Fire Authority volunteer for at least one year. This will provide you the necessary training and connections to become a potential career firefighter.
- Where will I volunteer?
Volunteers may serve at any of the stations within their assigned module. Currently, the modules are North, Central East, Central West, Southeast and Southwest. The stations within the division are located throughout the unincorporated areas of San Diego County. You can view a map of the stations here.
- Will I be expected to do additional training at the station?
Yes. Additional training takes place at the stations during the shifts.
- Am I able to take a Excused Absence during my service with SDCFA?
Yes. Volunteer reserves are eligible to request an excused absence.
- If I do not like the module I am assigned to, can I switch?
Volunteer reserves may request a transfer of module. The request will be reviewed and a decision will be made based on module staffing needs.
- Will I get paid to volunteer?
Yes. Although volunteer reserve firefighters with the SDCFA are not employees, you do receive a stipend payment. The stipend payment has the following breakdown per 24 hour shift:
- Entry Level Reserve Firefighter = $95.00
- Journey Level Reserve Firefighter = $110.00
- Senior Level Reserve Firefighter= $130.00
- Volunteer Fire Apparatus Engineer = $145.00
- Does SDCFA provide my Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?
Yes. The San Diego County Fire Authority does provide your turnouts for your service.
- Does SDCFA reimburse me for mileage?
No. Gas is the individual volunteer’s responsibility.
- I am interested in a career in the fire service. Will my time at SDCFA help me achieve this goal?
Yes. While SDCFA cannot guarantee you will be hired as a paid firefighter after volunteering in the program, many former volunteers have been hired as paid firefighters by other agencies. In general, the SDCFA Volunteer Program is a great opportunity for individuals to receive training and accumulate experience in fire service.
- Do my hours at SDCFA cover the requirement for paramedic school?
Possibly. It depends on the specific paramedic school you are attending. You must check with a CAL FIRE training officer to see if your hours will be eligible.
- I have completed my academy and now I want to get my FF1 certificate. What do I need to do?
Now that you have your certificate of completion, you must volunteer for at least 1 year before receiving your FF1 through the Office of the State Fire Marshal. For specific questions regarding training or requirements, you may go to the Office of the State Fire Marshal website or speak with a CAL FIRE training officer.