If your department is seriously looking at an 18 or 19 year old firefighter as the best candidate for the position of fire chief, then the town, the organization and the forefathers of the fire department have failed to prepare for the future.
Fire departments whether paid, paid-call or volunteer need to be run administratively as a business. Whether you have a 15,000 dollar budget or a 3 million dollar annual budget, an 18 year old has absolutely no experience running a 15K or million dollar business at the age of 18? Many do not even own a checking account yet... So before every 18 year old firefighter that feels I am totally wrong, jumps on my back... hold on a minute, We are talking about a business, now add in internal and external politics, personalities, budgets, inspections, liability, law suits, etc.
Now if your are in a small fire department that is really considering you as the chief, what amount of experience can you possibly have with 1 year of experience as a full member, because before 18 your experience was in the form of an Explorer, very little experience and no real responsiblity. Just because you took FF1 or FF2, even an NIMS ICS-700 class does absolutely nothing to prepare you to lead an organization. All of the classes that an 18 or 19 year old can possibly have is BASIC FIREFIGHTER CLASSES. Developing an IAP, Acting as a SO - Safety Officer, Command and Control Mutliple Units or Alarms not to mention RUN a fire, technical rescue, hazmat or even a MCI.
In most fulltime fire departments, that even run alot of calls, like 3000-4000 emergencies per year (guys who run 400 or 500 calls individually per year) they are forced to wait 5 full years before they are even considered to apply for a line officers position as a LIEUTENANT. Not even close to the responsibilities of a Fire Chief. Around my way, we see neighboring VFD Chief's who are voted in annually who would NOT be qualified to be a probie on my shift.
18 or 19 please.... train as much as you can, take classes, get all the certifications, run on every call possible, get a degree, gain life experiences outside the FD, and test your way up the ladder and get experience throughout the promotional steps and then step up if you feel you are still the MAN.
Along the way you might figure out the grass isn't greener at the top...
No, I do not think an 18 or 19 year old should be a chief. One needs Fire experience, leadership experience, management experience( and yes, there is a difference between leadership and management), but most importantly LIFE experience. I am sure that the 18 or 19 year old in question is a phenomonal young man/woman who would be a dynamic chief in the future, but for right now, he/she should learn from older officers and blue shirts who can mentor him/her into a good chief.