Can You Be A Part Time EMT?

An EMT is an honorable career to get into. The hardworking people that risk their lives to save others are incredibly noble and deserve nothing less than our utmost respect and admiration.

You might have considered becoming a firefighter EMT but perhaps you don’t have the time right now to commit to a full time position. Maybe you want to help out in any way you can but you only have certain days you can do. 

Whatever the rationale, we’re going to get to the burning issue. Let’s look at your options. Can you be a part time EMT?

What Is A Firefighter EMT? 

You would not be alone in thinking that normally the acronym EMT evokes the thoughts of paramedics. However, you might be surprised to know that firefighters are trained to a high level of medical training. 

This is because the fire department effectively now has a duo-role. They’re required primarily of course to combat fires but due to modern fire prevention methods, fires in people’s homes are now less frequent.

Things like fire doors, layouts to prevent the spread, better building materials, sprinkler systems and extinguishers.

Having said that, it’s not as if fires don’t happen and they are incredibly dangerous. This means we need to continue with our fire department recruitment but make their role larger. 

It’s now common to see a firefighter EMT at certain medical emergency scenes. In fact, in some cases – firefighters are first to the scene as over 60% of the department’s calls are now medically related.

So, What’s The Difference Between A Paramedic And An EMT?

Although a large number of firefighters become trained paramedics, you can still be a paramedic and not take up firefighting. To that end, it also means that paramedics are not trained in firefighting. 

However, every firefighter is technically a qualified EMT due to the extensive training they have undertaken. But there are slight differences between paramedics and EMTs.

EMTs can assist in medical emergencies that do not involve breaching the skin (such as injections.)

A paramedic, though, has far more training for general medicine and can be used for emergencies that involve injections or administering certain medications.

As a general progression, the roles allow the person to provide certain levels of medical attention (depending on the level of qualification.) They are (EMT):

  • Basic
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced
  • Critical care 
  • Paramedic  

What About An EMR And EMS?

EMS (Emergency Medical Services) generally respond to 9/11 emergency calls. They generally work from ambulances and can often be found at events or areas where there is a high chance of illnesses or injury (such as at a football or baseball game.)

EMS and EMT can differ, as some EMS do not have EMT training, but overall there’s not a huge difference. 

However an EMR (Emergency Medical Responder) has had far less training and therefore very rarely, if at all, attend emergency rescue with the fire department. They are required to provide a very basic level of first aid and are considered more the “sidekick” to EMS and EMTs.


What Are The Shifts? 

It probably comes as no surprise that emergency services don’t work your normal nine to five. Generally, firefighters work twelve hour shifts – this can be in the day, night, weekends etc. 

EMTs don’t exactly have a pattern of work. This is more due to the unpredictability of emergencies. As such, EMTs can end up working over fifty hours a week and you’ll normally be required to remain on call – so no impromptu road trips or bar nights!

Shifts in general will vary. Some offer a rule of thumb as four on/four off but this isn’t always the case. You’d have to be entirely flexible to succeed in the career. Fire Department EMTs may have to extend their shifts due to an emergency situation, known as mandatory callbacks. 

It is possible to train as an firefighter/EMT part time and continue working for your current employer – but they would need to be aware of your circumstances due to the potential erratic schedule. 

The Volunteer Fire Department

A huge number of firefighters are volunteers. It’s a great way to get into the field and requires the same dedication as the salaried staff. In order to become a full time firefighter/EMT, you will probably need to access this avenue of career progression, as positions full time are incredibly scarce. 

The hours of work again, vary. You could expect around twenty five hours a month minimum but be prepared to be called up if required, the same as full time firefighters. Again, if you plan to continue working – this would need to be discussed with your employer. 

In Tennessee, it is a legal requirement to allow any volunteer firefighter leave during work hours without penalty. So if you plan to serve there – great news. 

Failing that, it is also possible to get enough hours in to pass the minimum requirements through weekends and evenings – but beware that giving those up and working at the same time might be extremely difficult and draining. 

Volunteering as a firefighter does not entitle you to a salary, but depending on which department you’re in – you may still get a tax break, reimbursement etc. Over time, you’ll be allowed to enter into the pension scheme though. 


To be an EMT, you’ll need to be physically fit, educated, dedicated and financially afloat. There are various avenues to get into the field and it is entirely possible to be a part-time EMT.

But it is important to remember that the time you serve is not a guaranteed set of hours and there isn’t much of a routine as such, apart from the Volunteer Fire Department’s basic training. 

It’s crucial to note that there are various differences from department to department and state to state. Many different EMT roles and EMT avenues will have their own requirements and resources, so it’s always best to check with your department first.