Job Description of a Battalion Chief

Sep 23, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a battalion chief. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and work experience to find out if this is the career for you.

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.

Essential Information

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 (2018-2028)* 5% for first-line supervisors of firefighting and prevention workers
Median Annual Salary (2018)* $76,330 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 Requirements

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.

Work Experience

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 an increase as fast as the average over the 2018-2028 decade. These supervisors earned a mean annual wage of $80,310 as of May 2018.

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.

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