You’re a CPA but you still hold dear your childhood dream of fighting fires. You can keep the number-crunching career and realize your dream too -- become a volunteer firefighter.

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Millions of kids dream of becoming a firefighter when they grow up. However, not as many actually do. If you still have dreams of fighting fires and protecting your community, becoming a volunteer firefighter might be the right path for you.

Becoming a volunteer firefighter requires extensive training, hard work and dedication to the community. Smaller communities, towns and cities rely on volunteer firefighters to respond quickly to emergencies, to perform firefighting duties and to provide assistance and support to career firefighters. And although volunteer firefighters receive little to no monetary compensation for their efforts, the chance to aid and serve the community is an extremely rewarding experience.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter, the first thing you need to do is contact your local fire department [source: Volunteer FD]. Someone at the department can then guide you through the requirements and application process, which varies from state to state and from town to town. If your local department does not offer volunteer opportunities, you may be able to find another station nearby. Keep in mind that volunteer firefighters often respond to emergencies from their home or work, and therefore must have a good driving record and be available within five to 10 minutes of the nearest fire station [source: SCCFD].

You must also be in good physical condition if you are thinking of volunteering at your local fire department. Volunteer firefighters must perform some of the same tasks as their career firefighter counterparts. Some of those tasks require heavy lifting, crawling through tight spaces and moving quickly in heavy protective clothing and gear.

Be aware that volunteer firefighting can be a dangerous job that requires facing life or death situations. You should be able to stay calm, cool and collected in the heat of the moment.

If you think you can handle the heat and would make a good volunteer firefighter, read the next page to find out what duties you can expect to perform.