Firefighter Officer Ranks
Firefighters can move through the ranks of their fire departments. This can be accomplished through a combination of education, training, and experience.
Some firefighters begin their careers as volunteer firefighters before they start work as a probationary firefighter or a firefighter/EMT.
Entry-level firefighters will sometimes be referred to as probationary firefighters in their first six months to a year. Once they have gained enough experience in the field, they can be promoted to firefighter/EMT. The job is the same but might come with more responsibility.
Firefighters can also become firefighter/Paramedics if they get the qualified training to become a Paramedic in addition to a firefighter. This is valuable training because firefighters might be called upon to perform emergency medical services until an ambulance can arrive to the scene. Speed and timeliness is important in an emergency situation.
The driver engineer (DE) is in charge of driving the firetruck and handles the fire-fighting equipment. The DE will manage and maintain the equipment. If the fire lieutenant is unavailable, the DE can also step in and perform the role of lieutenant.
Officer and executive ranks
Fire lieutenants and fire captains are the next step up the career ladder. The lieutenant handles daily operations and training, as well as the emergency management response. This is an officer position and provides a supervisory role within the department. Fire captains oversee a team of fire lieutenants and might be the public relations spokesperson for the fire department on some occasions.
The battalion chief manages the operations of the fire department. It is the battalion chief’s job to ensure that everything gets done. Because fire departments are open around the clock, there needs to be a battalion chief available 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Fire departments will have more than one battalion chief to make sure that every shift is covered.
Assistant chiefs provide support to the fire chief, often through administrative functions. The fire chief oversees the entire fire department as an executive manager. Fire chiefs direct the department and will be responsible for safety and training, emergency medical services, and anything that the fire department might need to ensure smooth operation.
Other positions within the fire department might include fire officer, fire inspector, fire commissioner, deputy chief, and others depending on the fire department and its needs within the community.