Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What does the term VOLUNTEER mean? The fire service in the United States has a rich tradition of volunteer fire departments (or companies) dating back to the days of Benjamin Franklin. These volunteer fire companies provided fire suppression services through the time and talent of the members of the community. As time progressed and some areas grew, the need for full-time (or career) firefighters developed. This occurred mainly in medium to large cities where the industry and tax base both required and could pay for a full-time staff. In other areas, volunteer departments continued to provide quality cost effective services to their community.
You mean there is not always firefighters at the station? Correct. With the exception of meeting nights and other work details, there are not usually firefighters at the fire station. When the Department is alerted to a call the members of the Department must first respond to the fire station to pick up their firefighting gear and the fire trucks (apparatus).
How are firefighters alerted to fire calls? In the Windsor area we are very fortunate to have available the E911 service. E911 (enhanced 911) provides for the automatic routing of all 911 calls to the appropriate police, fire and ambulance dispatch service providers. For our area that service provider happens to be the Windsor Dispatch Communications center located in the police department at the public safety complex. When a 911 call is placed within our service area, it is automatically routed to our dispatch center showing the address of the call and what police, fire and ambulance agencies should be started. Then, through the use of a special voice paging system, the Windsor Volunteer Fire Department is alerted to the call. Upon receipt of a unique coded signal, so the proper companies' pagers are activated and the fire dispatcher is able to inform everyone of the location and type of incident. At this point all firefighters (with the exception of some officers who report directly to the incident scene) respond to the fire station to get their equipment and trucks. The town has backup programs as well that in the event of a radio failure the dispatch center can make a mass phone call to all of the volunteers.
What are the requirements for joining the Windsor Volunteer Fire Department? First, everyone must complete an application and submit it to an officer within the fire company. After that you must successfully pass a physical and background check.You must be over the age of 18, live within the boundaries of the Town of Windsor, have the ability to respond to calls, meet training requirements and willing to follow all rules and directives from the SOPs and officers of the department. Once accepted the applicant becomes a probationary member.
Do I have to pay for the manditory training? No, the Town of Windsor pays for all manditory training, the fire department just requires you to spend the time necessary to complete each course once it begins.
What is the time committment involved in being a firefighter? Our trainings and meetings are Monday nights from about 7PM-10PM each week. You need to participate in as many as possible and if you are below 25% you are not meeting the minimum. You must respond to 25% of the calls every six months that your company is dispatched to which varies depending on the district you are assigned. Firefighter I class is about 150 hours spread out over a few months.
How many firefighters are there? As of a few years ago, in Connecticut there are about 26,000 firefighters. Of that amount 4,200 are career and 22,000 are volunteer. In Windsor, we are 100% volunteer and our membership list is about 100 firefighters.