The certification process to become an operational volunteer is extremely rewarding, but requires commitment and dedication over the course of months and years. For volunteers with no prior experience, training takes between 6–18 months. In some cases, those with prior experience or certifications may be able to transfer their certifications into Fairfax County, shortening the process.
To become a competent provider, volunteers must also spend time riding on fire engines and ambulances during emergencies and continuously practicing and enhancing their skills. Volunteers are expected to serve a minimum of 240 hours per year, but many do more than 1,000 hours.
Operational volunteers must attend introductory and ongoing refresher classes and be in
good physical condition. All training classes are held on nights and weekends, in recognition of the fact that our volunteers have many other commitments in addition to volunteering. In some cases, career training classes are available to volunteers who are unable to attend the evening classes due to outside commitments.
After completing the basic training process, volunteers may also elect to attend advanced training (such as to become a driver, paramedic, or command officer). These programs allow experienced volunteers to enhance their skills and assume more responsibility during emergencies, but they are also very selective, demanding, and time-consuming. Those volunteers who have chosen to pursue these opportunities reflect the skill, commitment and professionalism of Fairfax County’s fire and rescue volunteers.