Battalion chiefs are the lowest rank among chief officers, two below a fire chief. Their job is lead the firefighting team and run administrative duties along with the other chiefs. Experience and a good work record are mainly what gets them the position.
A battalion chief manages and works with various groups in a fire department, which includes ensuring the safety of the team and providing the necessary equipment or resources in emergencies. Due to the nature of their work, battalion chiefs are also responsible for administrative duties and training. Formal postsecondary education may or may not be necessary, but battalion chiefs typically have several years' firefighting experience.
|Required Education||Postsecondary education may or may not be required, depending on the department|
|Other Requirements||Firefighting experience|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||5% for first-line supervisors of firefighting and prevention workers|
|Median Annual Salary (2015)*||$72,230 for first-line supervisors of firefighting and prevention workers|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Battalion Chief Job Description
Battalion chiefs are fire fighters who were promoted to a higher position. They are primarily tasked with leading their team of fire fighters, as well as monitoring safety precautions and equipment use. Battalion chiefs may also coordinate the efforts of their fire department's personnel and assist their superiors in managing community outreach.
Battalion chiefs must also have good communications skills in order to effectively manage their team, as well as interact with the public when necessary. The position also requires a familiarity with the area they work in and the ability to make decisions under emergency or stressful situations. This position may require being on-call for varying days and hours from week-to-week.
The nature of the job is supervisory, so some flexibility will be required of the battalion chief. Primary duties can include deploying and ordering teams, as well as filling in for other fire fighters when necessary. Battalion chiefs may be required to train staff and inspect or replace equipment within their department.
In addition to the management of dispatch teams, battalion chiefs may help organize fire prevention programs within the community. Battalion chiefs may also collaborate with the fire chief and coworkers to develop budget and resource management plans.
Education and training requirements will depend on the fire department. For example, some departments only require a high school diploma and college level courses, as long as the aspiring battalion chief has several years of work experience. Other departments may require at least an associate's or bachelor's degree, such as the Associate of Applied Science in Fire Science or Bachelor of Science in Fire and Emergency Services Administration. Some in-house training on the procedures of the department may be required as well.
Most battalion chiefs will stay in one department and gain the necessary experience by moving up the ranks from fire fighter engineer, to lieutenant and then captain. Additional knowledge of several fields and departments may also be required to supervise effectively. Prospective chiefs will generally complete a written and physical examination, as well as submit recommendations from their superiors.
Salary and Job Outlook
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projections, first-line supervisors of firefighting and prevention workers, including battalion chiefs, should see a 5% increase in jobs over the 2014-2024 decade. These supervisors earned a median annual wage of $72,230 as of May 2015.
Obtaining the rank of a battalion fire chief calls for years of experience, training, and proven work performance. College coursework may also be required. Most of these chiefs do supervisory work at the department, though some still engage in firefighting.