The V.F.D. insignia.

See V.F.D. (disambiguation) for other similarly-named pages.

V.F.D. or Volunteer Fire Department is a secret society in A Series of Unfortunate Events and All the Wrong Questions, which Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire become increasingly more aware of and involved with after their first encounter with Count Olaf.

The insignia of the organization appears to be a single eye, made up of the letters 'V,' 'F,' and 'D.' They are the main international organization within the books of which most of the recurring characters are members.

History and activities

We believe in an aristocracy. Not an aristocracy of power, based on rank or wealth, but an aristocracy of the sensitive, the considerate, and the plucky. Our members are found in all nations and classes, and all through the ages, and there is a secret understanding between us when we meet. We represent the true human tradition, the one permanent victory over cruelty and chaos. We're an invincible army, but not a victorious one. We've had different names throughout history, but all the words that describe us are false, and all attempts to organize us fail. Right now we're called V.F.D., but all our schisms and arguments might cause us to disappear. It won't matter. People like us always slip through the net. Our true home is the imagination, and our kingdom is the wide-open world.
— Lemony Snicket in Shouldn't You Be in School?, paraphrasing E. M. Forster
In the A Series of Unfortunate Events books, much of V.F.D.'s origins are unknown, such as why and when the organization began. It is clear, however, that it existed when Lemony Snicket was a baby, and also before the Baudelaire children were born. In Shouldn't You Be in School?, Lemony says it's existed for a very long time and that V.F.D. is simply its current incarnation.

In the canon of the TV series, it is revealed that Ishmael founded the organization to make the world a quieter, less evil and safer place, hence their motto: "The world is quiet here."

Exactly what V.F.D. does is never made clear, and the organization goes to great lengths to conceal all traces of its activities through the use of complex disguises and codes. Lemony Snicket revealed that they primarily put out fires, but they also carry out other humanitarian acts.

In The Penultimate Peril, Kit Snicket explains that "V.F.D. was once a united group of volunteers, trying to extinguish fires - both literally and figuratively. But now there are two groups of bitter enemies."

The Schism

Main article: The Schism

The schism is an incident that occurred within V.F.D. that broke up the members into two sides: The Fire-Starting Side, and the Fire-Fighting side. As stated by Kit Snicket in The End, those sides are literal and figurative. For example, the Fire-Starting Side not only commits arson on certain occasions but generally causes panic and mayhem wherever they go. The way the schism was fought out is not known, but it's possible it was fought using various animals (including reptiles, birds, fish and large carnivorous mammals), fire, water, and miscellaneous weaponry of sorts such as harpoon guns.


Lemony Snicket and Count Olaf at Prufrock Preparatory School, when it was a V.F.D. training complex.

It might have begun with the stealing of the Sugar Bowl, or with the murder of Count Olaf's parents, or as a result of Olaf's increasingly greedy and violent behavior. There also is a notable rift between Lemony Snicket and Count Olaf, potentially because Lemony, with help from Beatrice Baudelaire, Bertrand Baudelaire and Kit Snicket, may have murdered Olaf's parents, which potentially expands on Olaf's hatred of the Baudelaire children. However, as Kit is Lemony's sister and it is unlikely they have a huge age gap, and because the schism happened when Kit was four, it is unlikely the potential murder of Olaf's parents is the cause of the schism.

On the Netflix show, in the episode Austere Academy (Part 2), Duncan and Isadora Quagmire start reading the book, The Incomplete History of Secret Organizations. If you look closely at the Sugar Bowl page, it says, "...the truth is that these differences have been churning under the surface of V.F.D. for some time, even going back to the organization's very name."


Volunteers are recruited by V.F.D. at a very young age if they are seen by other volunteers to be observant, even those currently at apprenticeship. Neophytes, or young trainees of V.F.D., are carried away by their ankles in the middle of the night.

From "Infrequently asked questions about V.F.D.", a Q and A seen in Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography, it states:

"On the day you officially join the organization, you will hear a noise outside your home. It may sound like the howling of a wolf, the cawing of a crow (names many different sounds), or the turning of a page. The noise will come in the middle of the night, the middle of the morning, or, in very rare cases, late in the afternoon. Ask your parents what the noise was. If they reply "nothing," they are replying in code, because there is never "nothing" outside one's home. If you are interested in volunteering, answer your parents with the following question: 'if there's nothing out there, what was that noise?' We will be listening, and will know it is safe to act."

Recruitment has also been known to occur when a taxi driver attempts to show his passenger a photograph of a baby, something that notably happened in The Reptile Room.

After being taken from their homes (with their parents' permission) neophytes were once taken to the V.F.D. Headquarters where each was given a commonplace book and trained throughout childhood and into adulthood in a particular topic that interested them. Beatrice Baudelaire, for example, was trained in the art of rhetoric. According to Captain Widdershins, "VFD isn't just a fire department. Aye–it started that way. But the volunteers were interested in every such thing!" Before the schism, Volunteers were required to get a tattoo of the V.F.D. insignia on their left ankles.

When a volunteer graduates, they are to choose their chaperone and become an apprentice under them.

V.F.D. Codes

Main article: V.F.D. Codes

The V.F.D. utilizes several codes for communication between Volunteers. After the schism, however, both sides continued to use the same codes, so it is very difficult, if not impossible, to tell if the member using the code is on the Fire-Fighting or the Fire-Starting side.

V.F.D. Disguise Training

Main article: V.F.D. Disguise Training

The Fire-Fighting Side

Members of the Fire-Fighting Side are known as Volunteers. This faction of the organization prizes various values, such as being well-read, arriving early, and drinking bitter tea.


A photograph of the Paltryville Volunteer Fire Department: (L-R) Georgina Orwell, Montgomery Montgomery, Mr. Quagmire, Mrs. Quagmire, Bertrand Baudelaire, Beatrice Baudelaire, Ike Anwhistle, Josephine Anwhistle, Larry the Waiter and Lemony Snicket.

Known Volunteers

The Fire-Starting Side

This faction is home to those V.F.D. Volunteers who are no longer noble. They favor arson, hoard money, and commit murder as they please. Since the schism, they appear to have more resources than the other half of V.F.D and to have more associates throughout the public (e.g. the police and the press).

Known members

Unknown side

These names are seen in a VFD tunnel in the TV series, implying their connection to the organization:

  • Remora (he defends the Baudelaires during their trial, so likely Fire-Fighting side)
  • Julienne (she is a fan of Esmé and slanders the Baudelaires in her articles, so likely Fire-Starting side)
  • Bruce (it is unknown if he is truly related to Carmelita, but a relative of hers is, likely Fire-Starting side judging by Carmelita's behavior)
  • Hal (he is likely recruited by Kit and he uses the "sad occasion" phrase, implying he has become involved with V.F.D. If he is with V.F.D. it is likely the Fire-Fighting side)

Ray Hardwood, who was only mentioned in a very brief flash of a book in the TV series, may be part of V.F.D. If yes, then presumably the Fire-Starting side, because he was suspected of starting the Lucky Smells Lumbermill fire.

It is also speculated that Sir and Vice Principal Nero may be a part of V.F.D., presumably the Fire-Starting side.

Gifford and Ghede are V.F.D. chaperones, although it is unknown what side they are on after the schism.

Safe places

A VFD safe place, as quoted by Kit Snicket, is where volunteers can safely gather "to exchange information, discuss plans to defeat our enemies and return books we borrowed from one another." Before the schism, there were an innumerous number of safe places across the globe, such as bookstores, banks, restaurants, stationery stores, cafe's, laundromats, opium dens, geodesic domes, etc.

Here is a list of known safe places:


"The world is quiet here" is the motto of V.F.D. It functions as a password and marks a letter or item as connected to V.F.D. It is also the phrase volunteers use to mark their allegiance in the field. [1]

The Eye

The V.F.D. Insignia (seen above) is an eye made from the letters 'V,' 'F,' and 'D.' Any member of V.F.D. who joined before the schism has a tattoo on their left ankle of the eye. After the schism, the practice of tattooing members desisted.[2]

Behind the scenes

  • In France, V.F.D. is instead called V.D.C. due to French translation. It even has a slightly modified version of the eye symbol to fit the letters. In Italy, V.F.D. is called V.F., although the eye symbol was not altered from the original illustrations.
  • Translating every instance of V.F.D. into different languages is one of the difficulties the translators go through, as terms such as "Volunteer Fire Department", "Very Fancy Doilies", etc, don't have the same initials in every language.
  • Most of the Baudelaires guardians were/have been volunteers of V.F.D. This includes Count Olaf, Montgomery Montgomery, Josephine Anwhistle, Charles (newly), Jerome (newly), Esmé Squalor, Hector, Olivia Caliban, Captain Widdershins, Kit Snicket, and Ishmael.
  • In the movie, along with the spyglass, is a case with V.F.D. on it.