Every night, from 6pm. until 7am., the Student Force puts an engine into service. Each member works an average of one shift a week throughout fall and spring semesters. Each member is assigned a pager to be alerted of working fires and station coverages. Most students will leave class to perform these roles during the daytime hours, but this is not required.
Weekly drills occur on Thursdays from 6 - 9 p.m. Firefighters are expected to obtain their pump operator certification within one year of joining, and are also strongly encouraged to obtain their Massachusetts EMT certification, as the Amherst Fire Department runs five ambulances.
The annual "Wonder Week" of training takes place during the last week of August, and covers everything from basic firefighting techniques to search and rescue tactics. The week culminates with a visit to the Springfield Fire Academy burn house or County burn trailer where students put their skills to work in actual fires.
Life at North Station
Up to six students may live at the North Station rent-free during the school year. Residency depends upon seniority and availability of space. Students living in the station are mostly Student Force officers due to the greater responsibilities they have. Students maintain their living quarters and perform housekeeping duties on a regular basis. While only a limited number of students live at the station, all members are free to use the facilities available to them in the student living quarters.
Many former Student Force members have found fulfilling careers in firefighting. Of the current career members of the Amherst Fire Department ten are former Student Force members. Although students gain incredible fire fighting experience, alumni's careers are wide ranging, including but not limited to careers in the military, academia, law, medicine, business, and government; the possibilities can be endless.