Fairfax County Fire and Rescue: Combining public safety and volunteer service

This content is sponsored by the Fairfax County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association.

John Butler is the fire chief of one of the leading fire departments in the United States, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department (FCFRD). With more than 2,000 uniformed personnel, civilian staff and volunteers, contributions from both career staff and volunteer members help ensure the safety of residents and the community.

While career staff are assigned to all 39 fire stations in Fairfax County, 12 partner non-profit volunteer fire departments work in “combination” with the FCFRD system. When someone calls 9-1-1 for assistance, apparatus may be staffed by career, volunteer, or a mix of the two. Other times, volunteers provide “stand by” service at community events such as football games, 5K races or community festivals.

The thing to remember is that, in your worst moment, it doesn’t really matter whether the first responder coming to help is career staff or volunteer. In Fairfax County, both undergo the same rigorous training and testing to ensure you are receiving the best possible service.

There are approximately 350 volunteer firefighters and EMTs who may respond to calls, along with hundreds of administrative members who help with management and fundraising in departments that reach all corners of the County. Volunteers range in age from 18 to 80+, represent diverse backgrounds, and come from all professions: federal and local government, military, health care, professors, accountants and more.

Volunteers are united by the drive to learn and serve, often times sacrificing free time, time with family or even full-time work to give back. But there are benefits: learning new skills, professional development, engaging with the community, making new friends and belonging to a second family. Also:  members who give at least 240 hours and are in good standing with their station earn an exemption on their Fairfax County personal property (car) tax.

Chief Butler is uniquely positioned to see the value of volunteers and their contributions to Fairfax County’s Fire and Rescue Department. As president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, Butler works with chiefs from across the country: rural, urban, all-career, all-volunteer and combination. Fairfax County is a mix of suburban development, growing urban centers and pockets of two-lane country roads that remind you of the County’s history. Seeing the full spectrum of fire service models, Fairfax County is fortunate to have both career staff and volunteer members at the ready to provide the highest level of care and service to residents.

To learn more about joining one of the volunteer fire departments in Fairfax County, visit www.JoinFairfaxFire.org.

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