Fire chief jobs involve supervisory and administrative duties within a local fire department. The head individual is often known as the fire department chief and is responsible for the oversight of the entire department. Other chiefs may include assistant fire chiefs, station chiefs, and battalion chiefs. Each level will have its own responsibilities and answers to the next level in the chain of command.
Most fire chiefs start as a battalion fire chief. This individual often looks after a single unit, or shift, within the department. In most cases, a battalion chief assigns various daily duties to members and may help determine promotions and raises. Battalion fire chief jobs are often filled from the inside, with an experienced firefighter often given the nod over less experienced individuals. The hiring is usually based on merit, rather than seniority, however.
The next level in the chain in departments where there are multiple stations is the station fire chief. Individuals in these fire chief jobs are typically responsible for everything a top-level chief would be responsible for at a smaller department. Individuals may plan budgets, hire new firefighters, do reviews, and plan schedules. Station chiefs often answer to the head of the entire department or an assistant chief. These fire chief jobs may be filled from the outside or by a capable battalion chief.
At the scene of a fire, it is usually the job of the battalion or station chief to serve as the commander at the scene. Upon arrival, one of these individuals assumes command and announces his presence to both the firefighters and the emergency communications center. He then directs firefighting operations and is the central point of contact if questions arise.
An assistant chief is the individual who makes decisions in the absence of the chief, and helps assist the chief in any number of duties. Often, those working in this capacity do nearly everything the chief does, with his oversight. In some cases, the station chiefs answer to the assistant chief. This individual helps bring information together about budgets from the satellite stations, handles trainings, and may have a say in hiring and promotions, especially when those involve lower fire chief jobs.
The main fire department chief is the individual who is responsible for the overall department. This fire chief not only works closely with all the other chiefs, but also is the representative to the city or county within which the department is located. It is his job to oversee or personally handle the budget, media inquiries, accreditations, schedules, and other similar duties. The chief may also handle appeals of disciplinary and other actions within the department as well.