Volunteering FAQ


How do I apply to volunteer with ESD?

You’ll start by creating a Burner Profile and filing out Volunteer Questionnaire on the Burning Man website. Be sure to check the box next to the branches and/or sections you’re interested in working with. We’ll be in touch either way – if you meet the minimum requirements for one of our teams, you’ll receive an email detailing next steps. If not, we’ll let you know why.

Applications to volunteer with ESD are typically considered between January and early August every year.

What if I want to get paid instead?

For ESD volunteers, our service is our gift to the Black Rock City community and one of the ways we honor the Burning Man Principles of Gifting, Decommodification, Civic Responsibility,  Communal Effort, Participation, and Immediacy.

There are paid opportunities for Nevada licensed personnel interested in working with our medical vendor, however.  You’ll find information about joining their team here.

Are there places to buy food and water at Burning Man?

Not in Black Rock City! As a volunteer with ESD you’ll have the opportunity to stay with one of our staff camps, some of which offer pre-paid meal plans. In most cases you’ll be fed and watered while on shift with us, but otherwise please plan to be self-sufficient and bring everything you’ll need while you’re out there.

Will there be a place for me to stay?

You’ll need to bring your own tent, RV, dome, or whatever to sleep in. We do offer limited quiet, air-conditioned spaces for our crews to rest before or after a night shift.

How do I get to Black Rock City?

You’ll need to make your own way. Be a rockstar and take a Burner Express bus or plane ride that will get you into the city with no long lines!

How does the onboarding process work?

If the volunteer coordinator of your prospective ESD team thinks you’d be a good fit, they’ll send an email with the next steps. This might include scheduling a phone interview, requesting your credential/license, or getting referred to one of the other teams. Keep in mind that all of these steps take some time – the volunteer coordinators are volunteers themselves so your patience and understanding are much appreciated.

I applied to the Emergency Services Department in the past and was told I didn’t meet the minimum qualifications. Can I try again?

Absolutely! If you’ve gained the experience or qualifications you were previously lacking, we’d love to hear from you. Also, since some of our minimum requirements are dictated by the State of Nevada, they’re subject to change. No need to fill out the Volunteer Questionnaire again – just send an email to the relevant volunteer coordinator (Contact Us) and we’ll take it from there.

I’ve never attended Burning Man before, can I still volunteer with ESD?

In some cases, yes. Some roles require a familiarity with the layout of Black Rock City to perform in the role, while others are fine for newbies. You’ll be asked about prior attendance in the Volunteer Questionnaire, and the volunteer coordinators will find an appropriate spot for you if possible.

Can my wife/husband/partner/child/significant other and I both apply in one volunteer questionnaire or with a shared Burner Profile?

Nope, each person needs their own Burner Profile and completed volunteer questionnaire so we can differentiate between individuals for things like skill sets, identification badges, and ticketing.