Ridley Park is 100% Volunteer and We Are Always in Need of New Members
First, Some Details
- We have no paid positions. If you join us, it’s as a volunteer.
- You need no prior training or previous experience to join.
- We do not have an ambulance service. We welcome EMTs and Paramedics and your skills will surely come in handy, but if you’re hoping to work on an ambulance only, unfortunately, we’re not the company for you
(but our neighboring companies with ambulances would surely welcome you!)
- Members must be at least 14 years old and there is no upper age limit. It’s never to late to join. Even if you feel you aren’t physically able to be an interior firefighter, there are plenty of other jobs on the fireground as well as around the station.
How does it work?
Step 1: Apply
Stop by the station any Thursday night from 7pm to 10pm to pick up an application. If you can’t make it on a Thursday, you can check our calendar under “Events” to find meeting nights or special assignments when we’ll be at the station. You can also fill out the form below, and someone will contact you.
Step 2: We Interview
Once we have your application, we’ll set up a time for you to sit with the Membership Committee for an informal, generally painless interview. This is just an opportunity for some of our members to ask some questions about you and for you to ask some questions about us.
Step 3: Background Check
We conduct a background check on all prospective members. We’ll be checking for a criminal history as well as calling your references. If you’ve belonged to any other fire companies, we’ll reach out to that company to be sure that there were no issues while you were there. We also will need you to submit a child abuse clearance for yourself (this is a Pennsylvania law for all fire companies and we will walk you through how to do this.)
Step 4: Acceptance (or rejection)
Based on the background check and interview, the Membership Committee makes the decision and will let you know if you’ve been accepted. If accepted, you’ll be welcomed as a Probationary Member and you will receive a set of gear and will be able to respond to fire calls with us.
Step 5: Being a Probationary Member
Probationary Members are able to attend all fire call, training, and company events just like every other member, but you aren’t able to hold or vote. This lasts six months. After six months, the general membership will vote on whether to accept you as a full member. If the majority accept you, you become a full member. If the majority say no, then you will no longer be a member of RPFD. This is why it’s important during that six month period to show that you will make calls and come to training as well as help out around the station and with fundraising events.
Why become a firefighter?
It can be exciting. Most people have an inner child who wants to ride on a fire truck, right? We get to do that all the time. RPFD is fairly active, but we don’t get too many full-fledged fires (what we call “working building fires”). That’s actually a good thing. We like to think that our Fire Prevention Program is rather successful! Still, we can’t prevent every fire, and they do happen. We also respond to car accidents, natural gas and electrical emergencies, and various types of rescues. The work can get rapid-paced and even hectic, but there’s nothing like it and there’s a great feeling of accomplishment at the end.
You’re volunteering and serving your community. We see people on their worst days and we have the knowledge and training to help them. We work hard to keep the residents safe and, by keeping the volunteer service alive, we’re helping to keep all of our own taxes lower. If you’d like to make a difference, this might be the place for you.
Do you want to get out of the house, meet people, and expand your social life? The Emergency Services is like a community within a community. When you were in school, did you play on a sports team? Take part in the school play? Participate in chorus or band? Remember that feeling you had of belonging to a group, working together toward the same goal? That’s what you get in the fire service. You’ll work with other firefighters as well as police departments, public officials, and emergency medical personnel and you’re likely to develop some close friendships along the way.
(How does volunteer firefighting work?)
We put no quotas on your time and have no “on duty” schedules. We understand that there are limits to the amount of time you’re able to give us. We all have jobs, families, and homes to maintain. We assume you do too. All we ask is that you make an honest effort to respond to calls and attend training and fire company functions during your free time just like the rest of us do. So, you’ll miss the calls that come in while you’re at work, but make the one that comes in while you’re watching TV that night. You’ll make three drill nights in a row, but then you’ll miss one because “Back to School” night falls on the same night and you’d like to meet your children’s teachers. You’re able to help us with a Cub Scout visit to the station on a Saturday, but you just can’t make the fundraiser that falls on the Saturday after that because your nephew is having a birthday party at the same time.
That’s how it works.
We all do what we can and share the responsibilities
necessary to keep the fire company running.
You need no training or experience to join RPFD. But, you will need to complete a certified Fire School course to become “pack-qualified,” meaning that you can wear an air pack and perform active firefighting as well as enter buildings during emergencies. We pay for that training. All we ask is that you get yourself to the classes and do the necessary coursework. (The classes are generally on nights and weekends to help accommodate most work schedules.)
You can still respond to calls without being pack-qualified, but you’ll want to be useful. That’s why you should take advantage of our in-house training. We drill every Thursday night at 7pm. This is where you’ll learn how RPFD operates and we’ll get you started on learning all the jobs you’ll be expected to do during an emergency. Drill night is like attending practices when you’re on a sports team. It’s the time to learn new skills and to practice the ones you’ve already learned. It’s also the times to make mistakes and learn your limits.
Junior Brigaders (14 and 15 years old)
These firefighters will need to acquire working papers to join us
(available through the school guidance offices).
Junior Firefighter (16 and 17 years old)
There are quite a few restrictions placed on our Juniors. A lot of the restrictions are Pennsylvania Child Labor Laws, which includes a section specifically covering volunteer junior firefighters. We do place other additional restrictions on these firefighters ourselves. Most are for safety, but some are meant to keep discipline. It can be a lot of fun being a firefighter, but it’s still a serious business with a lot of risk and danger and we need our Junior Members to remember that.
If you join as a Junior, some of your restrictions include:
- You cannot wear an air-pack except for training and will have to wait until turning 18 to attend the class necessary to become pack-qualified.
- You cannot enter a burning building and cannot participate in active firefighting.
- You cannot get on a fire truck unless the officer of the truck approves. (If there’s a seat open, the officer generally does approve, so the Juniors aren’t always left behind.)
- You cannot respond to calls or be in the station between 10pm and 7am. You cannot respond to calls when they are supposed to be in school. (If you’re home sick, you stay home sick. You don’t get to suddenly feel better when the pager goes off for a call.)
- You are not allowed in the building without a senior member present.
- We also agree with any extra restrictions your parents place on you. If you can’t come to drill because your homework isn’t done, then you need to work on your homework and try to get it done earlier next time. If you’re grounded, don’t sneak out to a make call. If you can’t go to the special Saturday drill because your parents say you have to go to your family reunion, then you’re going to your family reunion.
So, with all the restrictions, what are the perks of being a Junior Firefighter?
- You’ll get a jump on your peers by learning basic firefighting skills before you’re 18. If you stay with us long enough to become a Senior Firefighter, you’ll have more experience than anyone else your own age who is just joining.
- You get a full set of gear just like every other firefighter and get to ride on fire trucks.
- You’ll make some new friends — there are plenty of Juniors not only in RPFD, but in all the area fire companies.
- You’ll be helping the public and volunteering in your community.
- We teach a lot of skills that will help you in the future. Some involve using tools and mechanical skills, but others involve interacting with the public, public officials, and police departments. You’ll also be working in an adult environment and practicing the type of teamwork you’ll be expected to do in your future workplace.
- Being a volunteer firefighter always looks great on resumes and college applications.
What jobs can Juniors Do?
- Juniors make great “gofers” (go for this, go for that). A good Junior learns our trucks inside and out and will often put the Senior Members to shame when it comes to knowing where everything is. This will make you valuable enough that you’ll rarely be left behind for a call and you’ll be included when an officer chooses a crew for an assignment.
- Juniors get us the water. This is actually one of the most important jobs at a fire. We can’t put the fire out if we run out of water. Our pumpers only hold so much. Juniors will learn a lot about water supply. They hook the hoses into the fire hydrant and hook supply hoses from the hydrant and between trucks. It’s fast-paced with a lot of scrambling around, but it’s a great feeling when you accomplish the task and know you helped the crews inside. It’s also another good way to prove yourself on the fire ground.
- Juniors can raise and lower ladders. Ladders get us to the roof and upper floors, but we also place them at windows for the crews inside in case they need to get out fast. A pair of motivated juniors with proper training and practice can quickly get a whole building laddered to help protect their fellow firefighters.
- Just like with Seniors, Juniors will also spend time cleaning. We clean up after accidents while waiting for the tow trucks. We clean up after fires and any call where equipment was used and we restore / refill equipment as needed. (It’s a necessary part of the fire service.)
If you’re interested in volunteering with the Ridley Park Fire Department, fill out the form below and click submit, or stop by the station Thursday nights during our training sessions.
Members must be at least 14 years of age and will ideally live in the Ridley Park area.