1. #1
    Scott Clark
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Question Is the title - "Fire Chief a thing of the past"?

    I have pondered for a while if the position of Fire Chief is a title from the past. When most of us responded to fires it was appropriate. But now with the significant decrease in fire activity throughout the country the title sounds mis-labeled! Todays Fire Chiefs for large departments are more like "Department Administrators" and for the smaller departments they are more like "Emergency Service Coordinators". Is it time for the fire service to modernize and re-name and re-structure our system of leadership? Or do we leave it alone and go on as we have? I would really like your input. Thank you.

    If we stand united.... We will never fall.

  2. #2
    Firehouse.com Guest


    As much as the modern day Fire Chief is more a " Public Safety Administrator", or "Commisioner", nothing invokes the feeling of relief or authority as "the Fire Chief". Even todays youngest generation can relate to this term. I think the term will be with us awhile, even though somebody added another door on the station and stuck an ambulance in there! It's akin to no matter what your rank, if you are in command of a ship you are called the "Captian".
    A thought on a good question.
    Stay safe...

    [This message has been edited by Aff (edited December 08, 1999).]

  3. #3
    Rick Bond
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I can't beleive you would even ask a stupid question like that. You must also be one of thoughs that thinks that PSO is the next best thing to peanut butter. To get rid of the title FIRE CHIEF would be like cutting the heart out of the fire service. Once again someone is trying to kill history and tradition.


  4. #4
    Scott Clark
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Rick you can stop with the name calling, your forgiven. It is just a topic of conversation to provoke some thought. The last I checked though, about the only thing we are doing that is still traditional is using water, and even that has additives! I believe in tradition but I also believe in change.

  5. #5
    Chief Sanborn CFR
    Firehouse.com Guest


    How about "Chief of Department" to go with whatever you call your particular agency. Has a better ring to it than "Big Cahuna of all Hazards That Nobody Else Wants to Take Care Of"

  6. #6
    Lieutenant Gonzo
    Firehouse.com Guest


    This reminds me of a letter I once saw in Firehouse Magazine. Someone wrote saying that the Fire Department rank structure was too para-military and wanted to abolish the ranks from Firefighter through Chief and replace them with titles such asfireperson, team leader, foreperson, supervisor and other stupid things. When we go out to slay the "dragon" or play the role of the Cavalry coming to the rescue, it is a military operation. Orders must be given and followed in order to get things done.

    Remember the saying, when the experts panic they call the FIRE DEPARTMENT!!! Change is good, as long as we don't forget where we came from!

    Take care and be safe...Lt. Gonzo

  7. #7
    Dean C. Olsen
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Greetings from Washington State:

    Scott, I must agree that the changes that we have seen in the past ten years of the fire service have been dramatic. When I started 16 years ago we had an average of 4 structural fires per month, and we now are answering less than 12 per year.

    As for the title of Fire Chief, I would say a big YES to keep the title. I have seen a lot of changes in our department since I joined, and a lot of tradioins have gone by the way side as we have switched from 100 percent volunteer to a combination department. Traditions in the fire service run deep and proud, and it is always hard to see one of them pass from our future. The last tradition that I watched fade away was that of tailboard ridding in 1997. Let us not loose this title for it is a title that has been given the respect of the community at large, as the title of the person in charge.

    Stay safe!

    Captain Dean C. Olsen

  8. #8
    Brian Johnson
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Great Question!!!

    It is often said that the fire service is hundreds of years of tradition completly un-impeded by progress. It is true we are slow to change. But change we have! Modern fire engines, HazMat response, ALS response, Urban Search And Rescue, Trench Rescue. Ice Rescue, Weapons of Mass Destruction Response; The days of sitting around the fire house playing checkers and waiting for the bell to ring are over.

    Changes are good. At least when their done for the right reasons. For what reason would we change the title FIRE CHIEF? Fire engines are still red (for most of us) because of tradition, Dalmations are still our mascots because of tradition, helmets are shaped the same that the old leather buckets were, because of tradition.

    If the change doesn't make for a better, more effecient, safer response don't change the tradition!

    Scott, thanks for a great question, I look forward to others opinions.

    Brian Johnson
    Assistant Chief
    Okinawa, Japan

  9. #9
    Firehouse.com Guest


    OK Dont beat me for what I say next BUT, yes tradition is a great Nobel Cause that every one of us should be Proud of,, However How many of you realy ever see your CHIEF on a Fire ground, small town VFDs probably more than Large Metro areas so who is in Charge, Lets see ,, BATT CHIEF, CAPTAIN, LIEUTENANT, and probably a few names I have not ever Heard of,, Yep its True todays Fire Chiefs are Administrators and I hear the Same Gripes most do,, He or She dont Know what its like down Here, How long has it been since they were on a Tip, ect,,, But it still does not change the Fact that most new Generation FIRE CHIEFS will have less on Line experiance and more Management training and Buisness Experiance,, and will very seldom see a fire ground why,, Politics, or any numerous other changes in American Culture,,, The Title FIRE CHIEF was well accepted for Years as the Head of the Dept and Person who Knew all,, its just not so Today Its unfortunate but I can see in the not so Distant Future where many so called Chiefs wont even Know what a Pump on a Pumper Does, There is not much in a Name folks its the respect and thought it involks, no matter what we call it today will all be Fire Fighters Forever..... Just my Opinon

    Here today for a Safer Tomorrow

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