Many of our towns and cities are protected by firefighters like your and me; they provide fire protection and other emergency services to the local citizens and do so not for a paycheck, but for a sense of community. Although many view the fire department as a necessity, not all municipalities can afford to pay for this service. Across the U.S. and even the world, many communities rely on volunteer firefighters.
Statistics from the National Fire Protection Association show that 71% of firefighters in the United States are on a complete or partial volunteer basis.
In the country of Chile, for example, firefighting forces are completely on a volunteer basis.
The first known, documented organized group of volunteer firefighters dates back to 6 A.D. in Rome. In the U.S., early Jamestown citizens formed social clubs that trained and fought fires together as volunteers.
The first official volunteer local fire department however, was created by Benjamin Franklin in 1736 to protect the city of Philadelphia against fires. Many of his early volunteers included famous names such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock and Benjamin Franklin himself.