Being part of a Volunteer Fire Brigade is probably more different than you think.
To be a volunteer you must be 16 years of age or over. If you're not yet 18 years old, you will need the consent of your parent or guardian. Apart from this requirement, almost anybody can join a Brigade, male or female, young or old, those looking for adventure or those just wanting to contribute to their community. There are opportunities for people from all backgrounds within a Volunteer Fire Brigade.
The role you play in a Brigade depends completely on what you would like to do. You can be hands-on at an emergency, or you can provide support to those people who are. You can even have a role that doesn't expose you to emergency incidents. The one aspect the roles all have in common is that they require you to attend a weekly Brigade training night, and that you participate in Brigade activities.
Here is a brief description of the roles available. For more information, please contact the Chief Fire Officer (CFO) of your local Volunteer Fire Brigade:
These people respond to emergencies. They drive the Appliances, make up the crew at fires, medical, hazardous substance and other incidents. They are the front line members of the Brigade. Training is supplied to ensure they can do their jobs safely, and to the best of their ability. Operational Firefighters carry rank, which is related to their qualifications and skills. Often the qualifications and skills that people gain from being a Volunteer Firefighter are beneficial in other parts of their lives.
As the title suggests, these people support operational Firefighters on the incident ground, by carrying out tasks that are non-hazardous to free up Firefighters for more specific tasks. These duties include: people and traffic control, transporting of equipment, assisting the incident controller, and other duties that are not in the incident hot zone. Training is supplied and operational support staff carry rank to ensure structure at an incident is maintained.
This role allows people who want to contribute to the Brigade and community the opportunity to do so without having to face the challenge of responding to emergencies. It can be an important role, like providing administrative support for the day-to-day running of the Brigade, or more hands-on, like presenting fire safety programs to community groups like schools or the elderly.
For all of these roles, people bring with them skills and attributes that benefit the Brigade. They all in return gain many skills and attributes that benefit them in other parts of their life.
The Firefighters' role includes the roles of Operational Support and Brigade Support. The Operational Support role includes the role of Brigade Support. Essentially, you get to choose your level of involvement.