Fire service ranks

Across this site, you will find many guides that I have created about becoming a firefighter in the US, and the different qualifications for the job. However, many of these relate to the entry-level positions and the initial hiring process. Not all roles in the fire service are the same and there is always room for progression through the different fire department ranks.

But what are those fire department ranks within the service?

fire service ranks

What is the chain of command in the fire department and what roles can you aspire to beyond your work on the front line? In this guide, I want to take you through the structure of the fire department — including both the structure and different fire department ranks.

There are more ranks in major fire departments than many new recruits and outsiders may realize.

fire service ranks

I will take you through them, from the first role after being hired to the very top position. By the end of that section, you should have a better idea of who answers to who and the roles that they have in a department. Beyond that, I want to talk more about the opportunities for promotion between the ranks, some of the other titles that you might find in the department and a little about the salary expectations.

To understand the way that the ranks work within a fire department, we have to look at the structure of the department itself. While there is a fairly linear hierarchy in the roles and job titles, there are branches within the department. Most firefighters work on an engine, truck or rescue company that is responsible for a certain piece of apparatus and equipment from their station.

Some of these will be classed as a special unit, such as the EMS unit, search and rescue unit or other disaster relief units. These companies are assigned to fire stations and several of these stations can make up one battalion. Major cities will require more than one battalion of different stations to handle demands and high call volumes. These battalions all fall under the management of the chief of the department and the city manager. Of course, this can all vary depending on the size of the fire department.

These complex structures, with multiples companies and different battalions, apply to those cities with many different divisions and stations in a wide area. Small scale fire departments or volunteer fire departments in small towns may only have one or two stations.

Therefore, they have less need for such a complex structure and chain of command. They may not even have that many people employed to warrant that approach.

Typically speaking, you will see 8 different ranks in the fire service. While not every department will have all of these ranks or be structured exactly the same; they will all have some version of these. For example, where I work we have probationary firefightersfirefighters, lieutenants, captains, assistant chiefs and a fire chief. One thing that you will notice about the structure of the fire department is how closely it matches that of the military.

They have taken some of the same names for the positions of command and there is the same sense of structure and discipline. As you can see, there are a lot of steps between your first role in the service and the very top of the ladder. Before you can become a firefighter at your new department you have to work as a probationary firefighter.

What this means is that you have a role at the station and can respond to fires and other incidents. This is the most basic entry level rank in the fire service.

After you complete your training at the fire academyinitial screening and hiring process, including the firefighter interviewbackground checks and drug screeningthis is where you will begin.

But, you are under probation for a fixed period usually 1 year as you earn all the necessary qualifications and skills to advance. While under probation, you will be required to take instruction from those above you.

You may be shadowed by senior staff as you undergo your training.

What are the firefighter ranks?

A probationary role is ideal for stations and recruits.Make FireRescue1 your homepage. Understanding the difference between firefighter ranks. The fire service was developed as a paramilitary organization, which means that its ranks and chain of command were taken from the military. In order to get promoted, firefighters are required to serve a certain amount of time at each level of the department.

They must also take written exams and interview with their superior officers before advancing to the next firefighter rank. The chain of command may be confusing to those new to the profession, but here is a quick outline of the firefighter ranks in order:.

An engine or truck company consists of a major vehicle and its firefighting or EMS personnel. Companies are led by a lieutenant or captain. A unit within the fire department may be dedicated to special tasks such as EMS or special rescue from dangerous environments.

Personnel with these units receive additional training for their particular specialty. A battalion is composed of several fire stations and the companies that are assigned to them. They are the lowest-ranking members of the fire service. As a probationary firefighter, candidates undergo training and evaluation for the first six to twelve months of their employment to make sure that their character and skills meet the high standards of the fire service. Upon completion of the probationary period, probies are sworn in as full-time members of the department.

Firefighters are responsible for the hands-on actions of fire suppression and search and rescue. There are usually one to two firefighters in each company.

The driver engineer is responsible for driving the apparatus. This is a very technical position that comes with a lot of responsibility.

Firefighter Ranks: Full List

A driver engineer must make frequent checks on the vehicle to make sure it remains in working order. All equipment must be cleaned and maintained after every call, and at the very least reviewed each morning before the shift. This is especially important at the scene of an emergency, when a driver engineer may be required to address a problem with the pump or other crucial piece of equipment.

Since the position requires a lot of responsibility, firefighters receive a huge pay bump when they advance to driver engineer. The lieutenant is responsible for the emergency response of a specific company, including the management of resources and personnel.

Firefighter training may include learning new EMS skills, or even how to create maps of local buildings and landmarks to use in the event of a fire. Because of their important role in directing firefighters, lieutenants must possess knowledge of scene operations and try to be more educated than their subordinates.

The captain is usually the highest-ranking officer at the scene of an emergency, and will direct operations as needed. The captain may also speak on behalf of the company to the media or public.The positions and ranks in a typical municipal fire department, from entry-level to highest position are shown below. In most municipalities, civil service exams determine all but the highest two ranks, i.

Within major cities, there are often additional ranks and positions, usually in primary leadership positions. These positions are usually appointed, e. Examples include:. The Emergency Medical Services division in many municipalities also has its own hierarchy, typical positions of which are listed below:. The assistant chief handles many administrative functions and provides technical and other support services to the chief and others in the department.

Often responsible for budgets and development plans. Like the operations chief or CEO of a corporation, the Battalion Chief makes sure that what needs to get done gets done. There is a Battalion Chief on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Thus each battalion needs to have at least 3 rotating battalion chiefs to cover all those hours.

A battalion chief is often highest rank on-hand in any given situation, given that fire chiefs and others often work only typical full-time schedules. Battalion chiefs are responsible for ensuring that every specialized role is covered for each shift, and thus may have to engage in creative man-power resourcing at times.

Battalion chiefs also handle advance management of work-schedules, including accommodations for vacation time and sick-days. Battalion chiefs are also usually the first line of official documentation when it comes to incident reports and investigations.

The captain oversees the day-to-day activities of the engine, truck or ladder company, while observing functional aspects of the crew performance with an eye towards analysis and feedback.

Bakersfield Fire Department promotes several to higher ranks

Each captain may oversee multiple lieutenants, one of whom will likely fill in for him or her when the captain is unavailable. The captain is often the authority on hand directing operations at an emergency scene, and may be the one to speak on behalf of the unit to the public through media or other forum.

The applicable unit may vary, as determined by the factors covered elsewhere, including, but not limited to, the section immediately following herein. This is the executive manager and director of a department, and is the bottom-line when it comes to accountability for operations.Login or Sign Up. Logging in Remember me. Log in. Forgot password or user name? If you have a need to advertise on Firehouse.

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Understanding the difference between firefighter ranks. The fire service was developed as a paramilitary organization, which means that its ranks and chain of command were taken from the military.

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In order to get promoted, firefighters are required to serve a certain amount of time at each level of the department. They must also take written exams and interview with their superior officers before advancing to the next firefighter rank. The chain of command may be confusing to those new to the profession, but here is a quick outline of the firefighter ranks in order:. An engine or truck company consists of a major vehicle and its firefighting or EMS personnel.

Companies are led by a lieutenant or captain. A unit within the fire department may be dedicated to special tasks such as EMS or special rescue from dangerous environments. Personnel with these units receive additional training for their particular specialty. A battalion is composed of several fire stations and the companies that are assigned to them. They are the lowest-ranking members of the fire service. As a probationary firefighter, candidates undergo training and evaluation for the first six to twelve months of their employment to make sure that their character and skills meet the high standards of the fire service.

Upon completion of the probationary period, probies are sworn in as full-time members of the department. Firefighters are responsible for the hands-on actions of fire suppression and search and rescue.

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There are usually one to two firefighters in each company. The driver engineer is responsible for driving the apparatus. This is a very technical position that comes with a lot of responsibility. A driver engineer must make frequent checks on the vehicle to make sure it remains in working order.

All equipment must be cleaned and maintained after every call, and at the very least reviewed each morning before the shift. This is especially important at the scene of an emergency, when a driver engineer may be required to address a problem with the pump or other crucial piece of equipment. Since the position requires a lot of responsibility, firefighters receive a huge pay bump when they advance to driver engineer. The lieutenant is responsible for the emergency response of a specific company, including the management of resources and personnel.

Firefighter training may include learning new EMS skills, or even how to create maps of local buildings and landmarks to use in the event of a fire. Because of their important role in directing firefighters, lieutenants must possess knowledge of scene operations and try to be more educated than their subordinates.

The captain is usually the highest-ranking officer at the scene of an emergency, and will direct operations as needed.

The captain may also speak on behalf of the company to the media or public. At the station, the captain oversees the day-to-day operations and training of the fire company. They receive reports from any lieutenants working at the station, and must make administrative decisions for the good of the team.

Because of their increased responsibilities, fire captains must possess an exceptional level of management ability. A captain may also be in charge of a special function such as training or EMS. They might also speak for their company to the media or public. Fire chiefs are the highest ranking officers in the fire service, and usually assume command at the scene of an emergency. The battalion chief is usually the highest-ranking officer on duty.

They are also tasked with creating work schedules and managing personnel for the fire stations under their command. Before each shift ends and the next one starts, the battalion chief must make sure that there are enough people on duty.

The BCs are responsible for scheduling each role in the fire department, including managing vacation time and sick days for dozens of firefighters.It existed untilwhen it was again split by the Fire Services Actwith fire services reverting to local authority control, although this time there were far fewer brigades, with only one per county and county borough. The NFS had full-time and part-time members, male and female.

Its uniform was the traditional dark blue double-breasted tunic, and it adopted the peaked cap worn by the AFS instead of the peakless sailor-style cap which had been worn by many pre-war fire brigades including the London Fire Brigade. The peaked cap was retained by fire services after the war. When they were on duty, but in the frequent long stretches between calls, many firemen and firewomen performed vital wartime manufacturing work, in workshops in the fire stations or adjacent to them.

This was entirely voluntary, but since many of the wartime personnel had worked in factories before the war it was work with which they were familiar and skilled. War service meant considerable risk, and members of the NFS were called to attend the aftermath of German bombing raids and coastal shelling from France, or often whilst these attacks were still ongoing. Casualties were inevitable, and there is one record of one volunteer who died on duty aged just 19, and was awarded the Certificate for Gallantry as a result.

At peak strength the NFS hadpersonnel, including 80, women. These were subdivided into Divisions. Each Division had two Columns and each Column had five Companies. An eleven-minute Second World War documentary that chronicles the birth and work of the NFS survived the war and is available to view on the British Pathe website.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 14 July Firemen and Section Leaders were given parity with police Constables and Sergeants by Industrial Court Decision18 Decemberwith Leading Firemen receiving an intermediate rate. Women never had pay parity. The Advocate. Retrieved 14 April British Pathe Ltd.

Archived from the original on 2 March Retrieved 12 October The Blitz. Fire services in the United Kingdom and Crown Dependencies. Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.

fire service ranks

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Changes to London Fire Brigade rank structure. The move follows a vote by members of the Fire Brigade Union in the London region. Some years ago, the rank roles and officer roles of fire personnel were changed, however there was some resistance over the years to the changes. A full list and outline of the current rank structure at London Fire Brigade is listed below. Pic: London Fire Brigade London Fire Brigade has said the change programme will require a substantial amount of work and time to fully implement, as it affects all areas of the brigade.

LFB is the second largest fire authority in the UK and has a staff level of almost 6, personnel operating from fire stations from within 5 fire brigade divisions.

Responsible for the overall running of the organisation. Assistant Commissioner Assistant Commissioners are senior officers responsible for community fire safety, service delivery, operational response, operational planning, statutory fire safety and training and development. Area Manager Previously senior divisional officer. Responsible for day-to-day management of an area of fire brigade operations or policy. Group Manager Previously divisional officer.

Responsible for management of a group of fire stations or day-to-day work in a specific policy area. Station Manager Previously assistant divisional officer. Responsible for management of a fire station or day-to-day work in a specific policy area. In charge of the watch at larger fire stations.

fire service ranks

Carries out day-to-day fire-fighting and fire safety work or junior work in policy areas. In charge of the watch at smaller fire stations or the crew of a fire appliance.

Firefighter Ranks: Full List

Carries out day-to-day fire-fighting and fire safety work. In charge of the crew of a fire appliance at many stations. Firefighter Carries out day-to-day fire-fighting and fire safety work.

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