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​FAQ's

Click on a question below to see the answer.

  • Emergencies
    • Q:What kind of fire extinguisher should I buy for my home?

      A: Homeowners should buy an extinguisher that can handle Class A-B-C fires. This type of extinguisher is designed to extinguish fires that usually occur in homes including wood, paper, flammable liquids, and electrical fires. For more information click here.
    • Q:Do I need to put a smoke detector in every room? How many do I need?

      A: Smoke detectors should be placed in each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. On floors without bedrooms, detectors should be installed in or near living areas such as dens, living rooms, or family rooms. Remember to test smoke detectors regularly! For more information click here.
    • Q:What should I do during an earthquake?

      A: DUCK, COVER and HOLD! If you are indoors, stay there. Get under a desk or table, or crouch down along an inside wall or hallway. If you are outdoors, get into an open area away from trees, buildings, walls and power lines. If you are driving, pull your car to the side of the road and stop. Avoid overpasses, underpasses or power lines. Remain inside until shaking is over. If you are in a high-rise building, stay away from windows and outside walls. Get under a table. Do not use elevators. For more information click here.
    • Q:What can I do to protect my home from wildland fires?

      A: To protect your home from wildfires, you must create a "safety zone" or "firebreak" by reducing the amount of dead or dying fuel (vegetation) around your home. This does not necessarily mean all vegetation should be removed. In fact, having fire-resistant plants and trees around your home that are properly trimmed and well watered can serve as a firebreak. For more information click here.
    • Q:Why do I have to dial 9-1-1? If I call the fire station direct would it save time?

      A: The firefighters might not be at the station when you call. Even if they are, the firefighters will still have to activate 9-1-1 so that other emergency responders are notified. On the other hand, the 9-1-1 emergency system is designed to save valuable and life-saving seconds. When you dial 9-1-1, the system routes the call to the police or fire department that is closest to your home.
    • Q:Why do fire engines respond to medical emergencies?

      A: All CAL FIRE/Riverside County Fire Department firefighters are trained to handle medical emergencies. In most areas, at least one paramedic firefighter is assigned to an engine.
    • Q:When there is only a small fire, why do so many fire engines respond?

      A: A "Standard Response Plan" policy is utilized on all responses. This system is a pre-designated formula that determines the amount and type of equipment sent to the incident. For example, a residential structure fire includes a minimum of three engine companies, one squad or medic, and one Battalion Chief. If these units are not needed, they are released by the Incident Commander.
    • Q:How do I create an escape plan for my home or business?

      A: The four basic steps in creating an escape plan for your home includes: drawing a floor-plan of your home; agreeing on a meeting place; practicing your escape plan; and making sure your exit drill is realistic. For more information click here.
    • Q:How should I plan for a disabled family member during a fire?

      A: Assure that you have a well-defined escape plan. Make sure that people who are confined to a wheelchair have immediate access to their wheelchair when an emergency occurs. For more information click here.
  • General
    • Q:What do firefighters do when they are not on calls?

      A: Firefighter’s work shift is 24-hours a day for 3 to 4 days a week and sometimes longer. Training and equipment maintenance takes up a good deal of firefighter’s time when they are not on fires, medical emergencies or other incidents. Firefighters constantly train so they are ready to handle any type of emergency. Firefighters also conduct fire safety inspections in businesses and wildfire safety inspections on improved property. Firefighters must also maintain and clean their stations.
  • Volunteer Reserve Firefighter Program (VRF)
    • Q:What do I do with my application once it's completed?

      A: Return it to your nearest Riverside County (or contracting city) fire station. Your local community-based Volunteer Reserve Firefighter (VRF) will then contact you to set up an interview. If you have other fire department or EMS training certificates, please attach copies to your application.
    • Q:When do I start training?

      A: If your application is accepted by the VRF Program and the Riverside County Fire Department, you will be classified as a "recruit" (a non-responding position until you finish training) and placed on six-month's probation. You will be required to attend and successfully complete multiple firefighting and safety training classes. The department may offer training courses in a structured, formal training academy or on a self-paced program. These classes may be taught in the evenings and/or on the weekends depending on operational availability. Your attendance will be required at every training session. Poor attendance will result in removal from the training program and separation of your membership from the Riverside County Fire Department VRF Program. Federal law also requires successful completion of a 16-hour Hazardous Materials course before you are permitted to respond to incidents.
    • Q:What additional training is required?

      A: In addition to the basic firefighter training cited above, California State Law also requires successful completion of an EMS First Responder/CPR or EMT course within one (1) year. Once you are authorized to respond to incidents, the Riverside County Fire Department requires you to participate in a minimum of three (3) hours of fire or rescue-type training every month.
    • Q:What about safety gear?

      A: Once you have completed most of your training you will be given an appointment to obtain your firefighting (wildland and structural) safety gear from the Department Service Center. Your safety gear must be stored at the fire station until you are authorized to take it home. The department does not provide uniforms. Clean, presentable and professional-looking civilian clothing is permissible during classroom training until such time as you obtain an approved VRF uniform.
    • Q:When do I respond?

      A: Volunteer Reserve Firefighters are not permitted to respond to any emergency until you have completed the Volunteer Reserve Firefighter Trainee Program AND have been given approval to respond to emergencies by the Station Captain. For training and supervisor purposes, your initial responses should be done while riding on fire/rescue apparatus from the fire station. Certain restrictions apply to volunteers lacking EMS/CPR certification. Consult with the station Captain and VRF Program President about current policies.
    • Q:What If I live too far from the fire station?

      A: All Volunteer Firefighters are issued fire department pagers that enable you to hear emergency dispatches in your community. Volunteers are encouraged to respond to emergencies on fire/rescue equipment; however they are authorized to respond to certain nearby emergencies in their private vehicles under strict guidelines. Motor vehicle laws must be adhered to and at no time shall any rotating or flashing lights or siren be used with private vehicles. All appropriate safety gear must be worn at all times. The station Captain and VRF Program President must be consulted prior to responding in a private vehicle.
    • Q:How much time will be required of me?

      A: nce you complete your basic training (Volunteer Reserve Firefighter Trainee) and are approved to respond, you will be required to meet minimum participation standards. Riverside County Fire Department requires you to participate in a minimum of three hours of fire or rescue type training every month. Your VRF Program may have additional monthly or quarterly minimum training, vehicle maintenance, meeting, and response participation requirements.
    • Q:What are the physical and mental demands?

      A: Firefighter duties require the ability to perform heavy physical work, follow verbal and written instruction, and be able to work in situations where heat and/or stress are intense. All Firefighters (paid or volunteer reserve) can be subjected to very demanding conditions while fighting fires (wildland, structure, vehicle) or providing rescue services. Extended periods of work time may be required; walking, climbing, jumping, twisting, bending and lifting firefighting or heavy rescue equipment or victims.
    • Q:What If I get injured?

      A: You will be enrolled into the State Workers Compensation Insurance Program prior to the start of any training. Safety standards will be strictly enforced at all times. You will be required to read and comply with all safety standards at all times. You are required to report any injury to your immediate supervisor.
    • Q:Do volunteers get paid?

      A: Limited hourly compensation is offered for actual firefighting duties. Over 80% of all emergency responses are non-fire related and therefore do not offer compensation. Volunteer Reserve Firefighters are members of their community-based Volunteer Reserve Fire Company and offer their volunteer services for the benefit and protection of their community.
    • Q:What are the physical and mental demands?

      A: Firefighter duties require the ability to perform heavy physical work, follow oral and written directions, and be able to work in situations where heat and/or stress are intense. All Firefighters (paid or volunteer) can be subjected to very demanding conditions, while fighting fires (wildland, structure, vehicle) or providing rescue services. Extended periods of work time may be required, walking, climbing, jumping, twisting, bending, and lifting firefighting or heavy rescue equipment or victims.