Are Fire Chiefs Elected?

Have you found yourself wondering if fire chiefs are elected or not? Perhaps you are considering the role and want to know what the process is?

Are Fire Chiefs Elected?

Whatever your reason might be, we have an answer for you!

Fire chiefs have an important role and it is natural for us to wonder if they are voted in, or secure the job after rounds of interviews.

After all, we want to know how the person leading our fire department got the job! But it can be tricky to find these answers and leaves many of us unsure where to turn.

Well, no more! Today we have the answers for you. Keep reading to find out if fire chiefs are elected and everything else you need to know about the role.

What Is A Fire Chief?

For those that need it, let’s have a quick recap before we dive into today’s article! A fire chief is the highest-ranking officer in the fire department.

A fire chief is responsible for the running of the fire department and managing other officers and activities in the fire station.

A fire chief also assists the mayor or city manager, providing assistance where necessary. This can be for events, or to speak on behalf of the fire department in regards to planning fire coverage.

The role straddles the active position of a firefighter and office and administrative tasks.

As it is the highest position in the fire department, many ambitious firefighters aspire to work up to this role in their careers.

Now that we have covered what a fire chief is, let’s move on to find out if they are elected or not.

Are Fire Chiefs Elected?

Let’s get straight into it! Yes, in most cases a fire chief is elected. To gain the role, they will often need to campaign for it, securing people’s confidence and trust to do the job successfully.

In some cases, fire chiefs can be directly appointed to the position. This might be in smaller fire stations, or in situations where only one person is applying for the role.

Typically though, we will see potential candidates campaigning for the position, not just in the fire department, but in the community too.

In most cases, those that want to be fire chiefs will have worked in the fire department for years, gaining experience and making the necessary connections that will allow them to fit into the role naturally.

The election process can differ slightly from department to department, so it is always worth speaking to the fire department directly if you want some more information or guidance about the process.

Remember that the current fire chief will have been in your position before and can often be a fountain of helpful advice and information!

How Can I Become A Fire Chief?

Now, let's look at how you can become a fire chief. Remember that this can differ slightly depending on your situation and the fire department you currently or want to work at.

But here are some general steps that you can follow on your path to becoming a fire chief.

Step 1 - Become A Firefighter

Step 1 Become A Firefighter

The first step is to first become a firefighter! Nearly all fire chiefs will have been a firefighter for many years beforehand and are likely to have taken on many different roles within the fire station.

If you already work at a fire station, then you will want to put yourself out there and see if there are any progression roles available to you, or a different role you can undertake.

This could be an additional responsibility or a promotion.

If you are not currently a firefighter, then your first step is to secure an entry-level firefighter role.

You will need a high school diploma and to pass a physical and written exam to be considered for the role.

Although it is not necessary to have a college education, higher levels of education do make you more desirable.

Step 2 - Gain A Promotion

Once you are working within the fire department, your next step will be to secure a promotion.

There is a long road from entry-level firefighter to the top position of fire chief, and promotions are the best way to work your way up.

Positions like lieutenants and captains are some of the first leadership roles within the fire service that you can apply for.

This will give you a small taster of what to expect in a senior role. These are a good stepping stone and you can see how you will find more responsibility in your role.

Step 3 - Earn Some Skills

Part of the fire chief's role as we have mentioned is leadership. If you don’t have any experience with this, then now is a good time to learn some skills that can help you with this.

Leadership courses are a good option, along with participating in agency activities that will help get your name across to the fire department.

Inspecting fire stations, and joining training burns or drills can help you learn new skills and also shows senior officers and current chiefs that you are serious about your career.

It also allows you to learn more about management and how the fire department operates.

As a fire chief, you would oversee the running of the fire station, so it's good to see early on how it all works.

Another way to earn some skills is through education. It’s worth undertaking some courses in fire dynamics, fire chemistry and combustion, construction, and safety codes.

These courses are more than likely available to you through the fire station.

However, it is also worth looking at two or four-year degree programs or postgraduate courses in public services or management.

The courses that are best for you will vary depending on your current educational background and you can ask current chiefs or other high-ranking officers for advice here.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it! Fire chiefs are often elected. Although the road to fire chief is a long one, with the right attitude and skills it is achievable.