Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is firefighting safe?
As with many occupations, there are risks in what we do. But we train to work safe, work in teams, and watch out for each other at all times. Despite what you may see on TV or in movies, firefighting has evolved into a science, with “Life Safety” being our number one priority. We maintain an outstanding safety record through many programs such as mandatory recurrent OSHA and HazMat training, practice drills, and additional firefighter education courses.
Do you really need more firefighters?
Yes we do. Like all volunteer fire departments, we need to increase our number of active firefighters. We are seeking men and women to train as today’s firefighters and become our next generation of line officers and chiefs.
How many fire calls does Ghent answer in a year?
Ghent Volunteer Fire Company answers an average of 120 calls each year.
Is there a minimum age requirement for firefighters?
Applicants must be a minimum age of 16 to join. Those under the age of 18 may become Junior Members with their parent or guardian’s written consent, and are restricted from operating any apparatus, using power equipment and interior firefighting. Junior Members are allowed to ride in the fire trucks and respond to fire calls so long as doing so does not interfere with school attendance or required school activities. We also limit Junior Member participation to 9:00pm on nights prior to a school day.
Are there any required meetings that firefighters must attend?
We have a monthly business meeting (for members only) on the second Monday night of each month, at 7:30pm. Attending every business meeting or practice drill is not mandatory but a firefighter must attend at least 20% of each to maintain an active status.
What are the drills?
We hold our monthly drill on the fourth Monday night of each month (except on holidays). Our practice drills include actual apparatus deployment and operations, simulated emergency rescues and equipment operations. These drills help to keep us up to date on the available resources and techniques. Many of our drills are internal exercises but we also drill with our neighboring departments to ensure an organized effort when the need arises.
Would I have to pass a physical to become a firefighter?
Yes. All active firefighters are required to have an annual OSHA physical. Physicals are scheduled and paid for by the company. Non-firefighting positions do not require the physical.
Are Ghent firefighters required to live in Ghent?
Members must live or work within the Ghent fire district.
Do firefighters drive their personal vehicles to the fire calls?
No. Firefighters are always required to respond to our station. There, they “suit up” in their firefighting gear and ride in our trucks to the incident. We do not permit firefighters to store their gear away from the firehouse, or carry their gear/respond to calls in their personal vehicles.
Do Ghent firefighters only fight fires in the town of Ghent?
Our primary district is the immediate Ghent area but we are also part of the county’s mutual aid “Incident Management System”, therefore we respond to assist our neighboring departments whenever requested. For these mutual aid calls, you will still be required to respond to our station to don your gear and be transported to the incident in our trucks.
Are new firefighters required to take any classes or training?
Are all firefighters required to fight interior fires?
No. We do have positions that do not require a firefighter to be “interior qualified”. There are other essential operations such as exterior firefighter, fireground support, traffic control and scene security to mention a few. We also have positions that are non-firefighting. We are always looking for help with administrative and social-fund raising events, and equipment/grounds maintenance. There is much to be done to keep a fire department running!
Do all members have to march or participate in parades?
We march in four parades each year. The four events include Ghent’s Memorial Day Parade, Chatham’s Memorial Day Parade, the Chatham Fair (Columbia County Fair) Parade and the Columbia County Volunteer Firefighters Convention Parade. As part of the proud tradition of the fire service, we encourage our members to participate in all of four. Ghent provides each active firefighting member with their parade uniform.
If I become a firefighter, will I be required to drive the fire trucks?
No, this is not a requirement to be a firefighter. Member who wish to drive the trucks are required to receive training and an endorsement by the Chief. If you choose to take on this responsibility, you must receive the training and endorsement for each truck, qualifying on one truck at a time.
Do firefighters have to pay for their training or equipment?
Ghent Firefighters do not pay for any required equipment or training. We provide these items free of charge.
What benefits are available to Ghent firefighters?
Ghent firefighters are covered by Worker's Compensation Insurance, disability, and life insurance.
If a firefighter is injured on a call, who is responsible for the medical expenses?
Firefighters who are injured on a call are covered by Ghent Volunteer Fire Company No.1’s insurance for medical expenses. If a firefighter is out of work because of a department related injury, they are covered by the disability and the Worker's Compensation Insurance.
Are most calls during the day or night?
Our calls come in at all hours with no trend showing any certain time of day having more activity than others.
If I join, will I be required to respond to every fire call?
Although we expect our firefighters to respond to as many calls as possible, we do not require them to respond to every call. Members are required to respond to a minimum of 20% of fire calls, drills, and meetings to maintain an active firefighter status.
Does every "fire call" have an actual fire?
Any call may involve an actual fire of some type but we are also dispatched for auto accidents and extractions, fire alarm activations, downed power lines, assisting the medical first responders, and a variety of other hazard mitigations.
How are firefighters notified when there is a fire call?
We will provide a (dedicated frequency) voice pager to every active firefighter.
Are Ghent firefighters paid for their service?
All levels of membership and positions within Ghent Volunteer Fire Company are unpaid volunteers.