Fire and Rescue Volunteer

Fire Department of Costa Rica - Goicoechea, Costa Rica
Quick Facts: Placement ID: IND-744 Location: Goicoechea, Costa Rica Sector: Social Services Category: Emergency Services Min Duration: 8 weeks Lodging: BaseCamp or Host Family Language: Advanced
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Volunteer Job Description

Guadalupe Fire Station in Goicoechea, attends to the emergencies in all of the communities in the Canton and neighbouring areas. Canton homes are usually old wooden structures. Goicoechea's residents mainly consist of underprivileged, low-income families who live in houses with minimum safety conditions and contribute to most of the fires in the area. The fire station personnel usually attend to several emergencies each day and they only have 20 firemen to cover the 24 hour schedule, 7 days a week. Almost all of the firemen are volunteers. A fire and rescue volunteer at this placement would be working with Costa Rican volunteers not only attending to emergencies but may also be asked to participate in training exercises or courses for future fire fighters.

It has been proven that most fires could be prevented. A fire and rescue volunteer would participate in educational activities for school children, at their schools or at the fire station, as well as activities organized by the local municipalities aimed at fire prevention.

A fire and rescue volunteer needs to have had experience as a fire fighter. The organization also requests a letter of recommendation from the station where the fire and rescue volunteer last worked and a copy of his firemen graduation certificate. It is mandatory to know a conversational level of the Spanish language.

Volunteer Tasks Required

Fire Emergencies

A fire and rescue volunteer must be ready at all times to attend any emergency in the area or any close community out of the Canton. A volunteer may be called to help even during time off if the emergency requires more staff.

Vehicle Accidents

A fire and rescue volunteer would participate in rescue emergencies at any vehicle accidents using the equipment provided by the station. The volunteer would also provide assistance to the Red Cross if they required the help of fire station personnel.


The fire department in Costa Rica considers its responsibility to educate the general public a high priority in its list of duties; in order to reduce the number of accidents in the country. A fire and rescue volunteer would be asked to participate and share the knowledge obtained during his/her experience as a fire fighter in his/her country. Fire fighting educational lectures and/or demonstrations may be at schools or to visitors at the fire station.

Administrative Duties

A fire and rescue volunteer may be asked to help with the inventory of equipment in order to request from the head office replacement of missing or damaged supplies/equipment. A fire and rescue volunteer may also be asked at times to answer the phone.

Host Organization Details

Fire Department of Costa Rica

The constitutional law for the Fire Department of Costa Rica, stipulates what emergencies they respond to; focusing primarily on protection service, which is free and nationwide.

The Fire Department of Costa Rica responds annually to over 35,000 emergencies throughout the country. The emergencies are from a vast number of sources such as: structural fires of houses and/or buildings, fires on any public or private properties this also includes mountain terrains or at landfill sites, fires on docked boats, aircraft, vehicles or emergencies involving hazardous materials. The fire department also helps in rescuing people from floods, collapsed buildings or structures, motor vehicles or even bee attacks.

Under the slogan " The best way to fight a fire is preventing it " , the Fire Department of Costa Rica offers various prevention services designed to help prevent disasters from occurring. It promotes strict safety standards for all construction building, as well as construction personnel. Early childhood education through visits of students to fire stations, as well as permanent consultation services.

The Meritorious Fire Department in Costa Rica has been characterized over the years, for its services in the emergency care division and the preventative efforts they have made by expanding their services into the community, making available to private and public companies, courses to strengthen the knowledge of brigades and other members, in the prevention and/or control of emergencies, when/if they occur.

When They Were Founded

Since 1543 there is documentation of fires in Costa Rica; on one such occasion the Aborigines burned two villages in protest of humiliations made towards their chiefs. Through the years, fires have continued to be a problem in Costa Rica, as in all known countries. Many fires are intentionally set such as those in Nicoya Esparza, Costa Rica in 1681 and in 1687 caused by hackers. This state of affairs continued even into the nineteenth century as Costa Rica still did not have a group organized to fight fires.

History records that in San Jose on January 26, 1864, following a devastating fire in the house of Don Francisco & Maria Iglesias, (both Costa Ricans), induced citizens to take action towards forming a properly organized fire department. The great concerns expressed by neighbors, (following this fire), for their own safety, the lack of personnel, as well as adequate equipment to fight fires caused the Municipality of San Jose to start negotiations on February 15, 1864 towards forming an official fire department.

Voluntary contributions from citizens made possible a " fire engine " to be brought from the USA which arrived in the capital on June 20, 1865. Simultaneously, the Municipality of San Jose prepared and submitted to the government, the first Official Rules of the Fire Department, which was approved on July 27, 1865, marking the beginning in the country of the Fire Department of Costa Rica.

How Are They Funded

The law stipulates that the Fire Department of Costa Rica receives 4% of the first payment of every insurance signed in the country. They also get funds from fines that citizens and foreigners have to pay if in a accident in Costa Rica.

Another way that the Fire Department receives funds is by donation from private local and international companies, as well as individuals.

Placement Location Information

Goicoechea, Costa Rica

Guadalupe Fire Station was built in 1963 with the support of the community who met to get donors and get the first fire engine. The land where it is located was donated by a neighbor.

The building is located one block away from the main Guadalupe street which is a very commercial area where people can find supermarkets, bakeries, clothing, appliance and technology stores, banks, a post office, central park, churches from a variety of religions, hardware stores, several public and private schools.

The station attend emergencies at a 37.1 square meters canton with a population over the 135000 habitants but the station also supports other stations during emergencies at cantons like Coronado, Moravia, Tibas, San Pedro, Curridabat which are around Guadalupe.

At the moment they have three fire engines and one vehicle to transport support staff durring any emergency.

Transfer From BaseCamp

From the BaseCamp house walk from the main street to San Jose's downtown, it is only two blocks away. Take any bus that goes to San Jose and get off the bus at the Munipality of Guadalupe. From there, walk one block to the east and two blocks north to reach the Fire Station.

Distance & Time

Distance from BaseCamp: 3 km
Travel Time from BaseCamp: 0:15

Weather in the Area

San José City lies in the Torrid Zone and is in a tropical rainforest. However its elevation gives it a mild climate. Under the Köppen climate classification it features a tropical wet and dry climate that borders on a subtropical highland climate.

The temperature ranges between 17 and 30 °C (63 and 86 °F). Relative humidity averages 68.2% (with extremes of 55% in March and 78% in October) and the daily range tends to be between 60% and 90%, with the humidity typically dropping to the lower end of this range near mid-day and rising again during the night. It rains on an average of 170 days per year but half the rainfall pours down on only 15 of these days. The rainy season is from May to mid-November, but cloudiness and rainfall can occur during the dry season. The weather is also very windy; this decreases the temperature at times.

City/Village Description

Goicoechea is the name of the county but the area is know as Guadalupe. Gudalupe downtown is located two kilometers way from BaseCamp Center and it is a town with a lot of commerce, where people can find almost everything. It has all kinds of shoping centers and malls, restaurants, cafeterias, internet cafes, banks, bakeries and much more.

Considered as a very religious area, downtown Guadalupe is considered a very develop district but just a few minutes away there is a lot rural areas with farms, where people still produce milk, strawberries and blackberries.

The public transportation is very efficient, there are around 15 lines that cross the county, every Saturday people visit the agriculture fair, where agricultures from all over the country come to sale fresh products.

Nearest Medical Clinic

Hospital Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia
Streets 7 - 9
Avenues 17 - 19
San Jose
TEL 1: 22577922

Placement Address

Fire Department of Costa Rica
Calle 2
Costa Rica

Accommodation and Meals

All of our volunteers begin their stay in Costa Rica at our BaseCamp Center in San Jose. Given that this placement is less than a 1 hour and 15 minute commute from BaseCamp, volunteers working here will have the option of living with us at BaseCamp or living with a host family.

The following information outlines a brief description of life at BaseCamp and also what someone can expect living with a host family in Costa Rica. Once you have completed our application, you can let our staff know if you would prefer to live with a host family. Otherwise, your application will default to having you live with us at BaseCamp.

If you have any questions about the difference between life at BaseCamp or life with a host family in Costa Rica you can always give us a call or send us an email. Our contact details are listed in the footer of every page of the site.

BaseCamp Costa Rica

BaseCamp Costa Rica
BaseCamp Costa Rica Address

Ave 16 St. 39&41
Los Yoses Sur
San Jose, Costa Rica

BaseCamp Costa Rica Contact Details

Tel: 506-8763-9595
Tel: 506-4030-1891
Mobile: 506-8763-9595

Take a Tour of BaseCamp
Accommodation in Costa Rica

All volunteers on our program in Costa Rica start out at our BaseCamp Center. The center is located in the capital city San Jose, and is a fantastic place from which to start your adventure.

Once volunteers have finished their orientation, where they live depends largely on the location of their placement. If their placement is more than a 1 hour 15 minutecommute from BaseCamp, then the only accommodation option may be host families or volunteer lodges in the national parks. However, if the placement is within a 1 hour 15 minute commute, then volunteers can choose whether or not to stay with us at BaseCamp or live with a host family.

BaseCamp Costa Rica is located in the province of San Jose at Los Yoses area. This is a fantastic area closed to the University of Costa Rica, San Pedro Mall, banks, supermarkets, restaurants, embassies and stores. Walking distance to down town and only 30 minutes away from the Juan Santamaria Airport.

BaseCamp has four bedrooms and three wash-rooms. The beds are mainly bunk beds in dormitory style rooms. Pillows, sheets and blankets are provided. There is a large common area where movies, books and games are available to our guests and there is a patio with a nice set up. This is an ideal setting for reading, studying Spanish or just some quiet relaxation.

BaseCamp is where volunteers first come when they arrive in Costa Rica and where they live for at least the duration of their orientation and training. The meal plan at the centre is based on a 14 day rotating schedule of a variety of traditional dishes from around the country. This meal plan allows volunteers to gain comfort and familiarity with both Costa Rican food and meal etiquette before making the transition to living with a host family.

Orientation and language training sessions take place in the BaseCamp Center. Each day of orientation blends some workshops and lessons with a mixture of outings to explore and become familiar with transportation and knowledge regarding the city.

Living With a Host Family in Costa Rica

Living with a host family in Costa Rica is a fantastic way to gain a deep understanding of and appreciation for the people and customs of the country. Each home-stay will provide a bed and three meals per day for our volunteers. The majority of host families offer private rooms with only one or two volunteers living with the family.

In the case of a volunteer lodge or ranger station (which is often the only option for placements within a National Park), volunteers will be living in dormitory type accommodation and meals will be provided in a mess hall or dining area.

Living with a host family can greatly enhance your performance at your placement. For one, it will have a huge influence on the speed with which you gain familiarity with the local language. This, along with your deeper understanding of cultural practices and beliefs that you are likely to gain in this environment, can go a long way to improving or strengthening your relationships with your team mates at work. Furthermore, a significant percentage of our host families are closely affiliated with the organizations with which our volunteers work. As such, even the evening meal or hanging out around the house can become valuable time during which volunteers can share their ideas and continue their support of their host organization.

All of this being said, living with a host family is not for everyone. It is very important for volunteers to honor the house rules in their host family and to be punctual. Also, depending on how remote your placement location, host families can be very rustic. Our staff in country can give you a better idea of what exactly you can expect from a host family in any particular community. However, in general, if these things sound like they might pose a challenge for you, we strongly suggest that you look at a placement within commuting distance from BaseCamp Costa Rica.

How the Program Works

Our program structure and costing is completely flexible which lets our volunteers ensure that they only pay for exactly the degree of support that they want.

Option 1 - Free Services

Some volunteers prefer to coordinate their own accommodation, meals and other support while overseas.

Anyone is welcome to use our volunteer placement search tool to help in finding a placement that is well suited to their interests. Once someone finds a placement that they wish to work with, they are welcome to make all the rest of their arrangmeents on their own.

As well, our team of staff overseas are often able to offer a few helpful pointers for volunteers 'doing it on their own'. Just send us an email with your questions and we will put you in touch with our team abroad. We only ask that you keep your requests fairly general, as this type of advice is exactly how our team earn their living. :)

Option 2 - Placement Support - 250 USD

Other volunteers would like assistance in selecting and confirming their placement, but they plan to manage their own accommodation and other expenses on their own.

These volunteers have the option of choosing to only have our assistance with selecting and confirming their placement. This option also includes ongoing placement support while abroad, so a volunteer would be able to ask our team for help if things at their placement were not working out.

In providing Placement Support, our team works with each volunteer through email, telephone and either Skype or Google Hangouts, to ensure that each volunteer has a clear understanding of their placement options. Our in-country staff will put together a custom list of placement options for each volunteer that they believe are the most appropriate matches with the volunteer's background, skills and interests. Then each volunteer can work with our team both in Canada and abroad to go through each of the options and narrow-down their selection.

Option 3 - Full Program Support

For most volunteers who are volunteering for less than a year, they are looking for an option that includes their accommodation, meals, airport reception, country and program orientation and placement support. This is what our Program Fees are designed for.

We are proud of how over the years we have ensured that our program fees are amoungst the most reasonable of any program in the world while we continue to provide exceptional volunteer support both at home and abroad.

Our Program Fees and listings of what these do and do not include are listed below:

Program Fees

Program Fees - Costa Rica

  Registration Fee
  1 Week
  2 Weeks
  3 Weeks
  4 Weeks
  5 Weeks
  6 Weeks
  7 Weeks
  8 Weeks
  Additional Weeks

Costa Rica wildlife and conservation placements require an additional $7 USD per day fee to cover park fees and accommodation. All program fees are listed in US Dollars.

What is Included
  • Pre-Departure support
  • Placement consulation
  • Airport reception & transfer
  • 2 Day orientation
  • Accommodation (BaseCamp or host family)
  • Breakfast and dinner
  • Emergency & placement support

What is Not Included
    Before Departure
  • International flight
  • Travel medical insurance
  • Visa costs where required
  • Work permits where required
    While Overseas
  • Daily transportation to and from placement
  • Transport to airport on departure
  • Placement fees if requried

Program Dates

Our regularly scheduled program start dates are the first Friday of each month, every month of the year. We strongly recommend beginning your program on one of these dates as this will allow you to go through our orientation alongside other international volunteers.

If you would prefer, our application will also allow you to select a custom start date for your program. Keep in mind that there is an additional fee for a custom start date which ranges from 50 to 75 USD.

Dec 03, 2021 Jan 07, 2022 Feb 04, 2022
Mar 04, 2022 Apr 01, 2022 May 06, 2022
Jun 03, 2022 Jul 01, 2022 Aug 05, 2022
Sep 02, 2022 Oct 07, 2022 Nov 04, 2022
Dec 02, 2022 Jan 06, 2023 Feb 03, 2023
Mar 03, 2023 Apr 07, 2023 May 05, 2023
Jun 02, 2023 Jul 07, 2023 Aug 04, 2023
Sep 01, 2023 Oct 06, 2023 Nov 03, 2023


These dates are the day that volunteers should plan to arrive on the ground in country. We can accommodate arrivals in-country at any time day or night on these dates.

Give us a Call
Canada / USA 866-646-4693 (toll free)
UK 866-646-4693 (toll free)
Australia 866-646-4693 (toll free)
International 613-353-3000
Send us a Message