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How To Become A Fire Chief

As the head of the fire department, the fire chief must perform many of the administrative and supervisory tasks involved in fire control and rescue. The fire chief typically establishes the policies and procedures of the fire department, supervises, plans, and evaluates all operations, communicates with city officials, and works to adequately perform tasks related to fire prevention.

What You'll Need To Learn To Do

As the fire chief, you will typically perform the following duties:

  • Work with other emergency medical departments, the government, and the city council to establish policies and procedures
  • Supervise all fire station operations
  • Plan the annual budget, control expenditures, and purchase tools, equipment, and supplies
  • Direct the scene at a fire emergency
  • Supervise building inspections for fire hazards
  • Supervise trainings and help train firefighters, as needed
  • Review the performance of other firefighters, handle disputes, and deploy disciplinary measures, as needed
  • Prepare monthly reports for the mayor, city council, and fire and police commission
  • Supervise the inspection of equipment, tools, and supplies
  • Meet with elected officials, EMS personnel, and community representatives to discuss department plans and activities
  • Represent and speak on behalf of the department during various local and state government meetings

Move Up The Ranks: How To Become A Fire Chief

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a fire chief must have earned a minimum of a high school diploma or GED, and many fire chiefs have at least some college education. BLS also notes that fire chiefs typically require a good amount of on-the-job training, and you must continue your formal education to stay up-to-date on all fire tactics and firefighting procedures.

In addition, fire chiefs typically have to successfully pass departmental exams, work within the department for many years, be physically fit, display great knowledge of fire tactics, and must possess many leadership skills. These leadership skills must be performed throughout the tenure of the firefighter, and you must also display a proactive approach to firefighting (rather than a reactive approach).

In other words, risk prevention and risk reduction measures throughout your career as a firefighter are a must-have. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, the firefighter who wants to become the fire chief must also be willing to conduct extensive research, embrace diversity, and must invite lifelong learning.

The fire chief must feel comfortable supervising other fire service personnel, and must be willing to communicate closely with the community officials and citizens you serve. As such, if you do want to become a fire chief, you must display great communication skills, know how to positively manage conflict, and maintain a professional attitude at all times.

Learn The Ropes, Then Head A Department

If you aren't one to shy away from a leadership role, welcome the many responsibilities that come along with being a fire chief, and don't mind putting in the time and effort to climb the ranks of a fire department, then you would be a perfect candidate for fire chief.

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