Fire chiefs are responsible for providing managerial and administrative direction within a fire department. Their role is one of leadership, and their responsibilities include: planning and supervising fire operations; coordinating fire programs and action plans with a city's government; supervising building inspections for fire hazards to ensure they meet safety standards; preparing the fire department's annual budget; reviewing new and replaced equipment; and performing training drills with other firefighters. Above all, they continue to engage in firefighting and provide rescue and medical services, though this is secondary to their administrative roles.
In most cases, fire chiefs began as firefighters and rose through the ranks after many years of education, training, and experience, all of which are vital for the position's responsibilities. Fire chiefs work mostly in offices, but frequently participate in tasks that take place outdoors or elsewhere. These may range from attending meetings with city officials to administering drills and training programs or responding to real fires. Many work long shifts, though mostly during day hours.
Though many fire chiefs may have no education past a high school diploma, many departments now prefer applicants with a Bachelor's degree. In either case, fire chiefs are expected to have had many years of firefighting experience, and some are also expected to have taken courses regarding hazardous materials, fire codes, and additional training under the U.S. National Fire Academy.
Fire Chief Tasks
Evaluate scale and nature of reported fires while assigning appropriate teams to strategic locations for rescue of people and extinguishing flames.
Update, review, and report on personnel, equipment, and incidents.
Manage personnel and equipment to maintain peak performance abilities.
Oversee medical responses as needed.