We are glad you are interested in volunteering your time and effort with Whatcom County Fire District 16! This page is intended to help you decide if volunteering with us is a good fit for you and to give you some idea of the process and what happens after you apply.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is This Right For Me and My Family?

A: Well it’s not for everyone - and that’s okay. There is a training time commitment that includes regular Monday night meetings from start to retirement. Then there are occasionally classes you are encouraged to volunteer for that can be on weekends or evenings for weeks to months at a time. And that is not the real time commitment - the tough one comes in the middle of the night when you are having great, deep sleep; or during church/games/dinner; almost always when you really need to use the bathroom; and worst of all during important family events like birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, kids sports games or plays. When the pager goes off someone needs help and we pay a heavy price.

Q: What do I get out of helping?

A: An honest question.

  • Money wise - not much. Volunteers receive a taxable stipend of $7 per call (not per hour) and $5-$10 per training event.

  • Training - You will learn how to deal with emergencies. You will become proficient in fighting fires, performing rescues of various types, CPR and First Aid. Multiple certifications are available including FireFighter 1, Wildland Red Card, and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).

  • You get to do something good. That sounds cheesy, we know, but it makes a difference. You will be the person that another person depends on when they are likely having the worst day of their lives. They may not be grateful because things look grim at that moment for them, but they may be extremely grateful because you are there.

  • You and your family will become part of a group of people that will be there when you need them - because that is literally what they do. They are the kind of people that get up in the middle of the night to join you in the pouring rain to sandbag someone else's house. They are the people that leave important events to help with you. And they have families that make that sacrifice with yours. You also get to bring your family into the department - twice a year we have family events and often groups of families get together on their own. We do not do this alone

Q: Do I always have to be “on call?”

A: No one is always “on call.” We are all volunteers with normal lives, jobs and responsibilities. If you can not make it you can not make it. We need a good number of volunteers so that when you can not make it others can. We go when we can.

Q: Is it dangerous?

A: We train and use equipment that mitigate the dangers of an emergency, but we respond to emergencies which are dangerous. So yes, it does have some level of danger to it. But you are not alone - you are surrounded by people trained to deal with dangerous events who are looking out for you (and you for them). We do not do the stupid stuff that makes for dramatic TV. Our job, in the end, is to reduce the danger and the level of emergency.

Q: Do I have to pay for my gear?

A: No. Not unless you want some cool FireFighter/EMS swag - we do not have the budget for much of that stuff.

Q: Are there any special rules that I have to follow?

A: Oh yes. Rules you would not even think of. There are rules about social media (you will learn things that are under rules of confidentiality). There are rules about facial hair (we go into hazardous environments with masks and air tanks - you want a good seal). Plus there are the usual rules you would expect like staying out of legal trouble - drinking and driving - drug use. They can seem like a lot, but the rules are there to keep the danger level as low as possible (refer to the Q on danger) and to keep the communities trust. They all come down to the most important rule: everyone goes home safe.

Q: I have a ton more questions…

A: Great. Start by reading the following member policy and then contact us.

Here is a list of the basic requirements and standards.

Per Whatcom County Fire District #16 policy:

1.1 Application: Personnel shall have a completed the dept.'s application forms and successfully passed any background investigation conducted. A current/valid Washington State Drivers License must be held in addition.

1.2 Residency: Personnel shall be established residents of the community, provided that this requirement may be waived at the Chief's discretion.

1.3 Availability: Personnel shall be adequately available for regularly scheduled training and response calls.

1.4: Character: Personnel shall have demonstrated good character traits such as honesty, reliability, integrity, fidelity, etc... A felony conviction will automatically disqualify any applicant.

1.5: Fitness: Personnel shall have a positive recommendation for unlimited, sustained, arduous duty by Dist. # 16's designated physician.

1.6: Compliance: Personnel shall have a working knowledge of and comply with all department standard operating procedures and policy.

1.7: Amiability: Personnel shall conduct themselves in an amiable and professional manner in their relationships with one another, other emergency responders and the general public.

1.8: Training: Personnel shall attend at least 50% of all regularly scheduled training sessions; provided that this 50% requirement may be reduced at the Chief's discretion; provided further, that all personnel shall additionally complete and satisfy the department's specific training requirements and standards including all federal and state mandated courses.

1.9: Response: Personnel, unless otherwise directed by the Chief, shall respond to at least 25% of all calls.

1:10 Renewal: Personnel shall complete and submit a department membership renewal form each year in order to maintain their membership.

1.11: Retirement: Personnel who have actively served as volunteer firefighters in Washington State for at least ten years shall be eligible to retire and terminate their membership.

1.12: Status: Personnel shall be categorized as follows:

  • Probationary: Successful applicants who meet the initial requirements and standards may be accepted as probationary personnel and shall only take part at calls/ activities assigned to them by an Officer or Incident Commander.

  • Active: After twelve months, probationary personnel may be eligible for appointment as active personnel and, unless otherwise directed by the Chief, may take part in all normal activities at calls in accordance with the department procedures and policies; provided, that this twelve-month period may be reduced or extended at the Chief's discretion.

  • Limited: Probationary or active personnel who become non-compliant with department requirements or standards may be placed on limited status and may be restricted or especially monitored in how they respond to calls. (Habitual "limited" status shall be ground for dismissal)

  • Inactive: Probationary, limited or active personnel who become non-compliant with crucial department requirements or standards shall be placed on inactive status and shall not respond to any calls. (Recurrent "inactive" status shall be grounds for dismissal)