Twenty-six volunteer companies serve Washington County, according to John Latimer IV, director of Washington County Fire and Emergency Services.
Latimer said qualified volunteers can perform office functions, provide basic medical assistance and fight fires.
Although each company differs slightly in its admission process, prospective volunteers generally must apply for membership, Latimer said. Company members vote on new candidates, and the initial levels of fire and medical-emergency training usually are free, he said.
Volunteers also can work in administrative roles, Latimer said.
Several companies - including Williamsport Volunteer Fire and Emergency Medical Services and First Hagerstown Hose Co. - allow youths younger than 16 to volunteer with their parents' permission, he said.
Most people who volunteer as firefighters take both basic firefighting and basic emergency-medical technician training, Latimer said. The firefighting course takes 110 hours, and the emergency-medical course takes 141 hours, he said. Both are structured around the college semester schedule, and they are free for volunteers.