At the risk of getting blasted... I'm looking for qualifications or requirements to be a volunteer fire chief in New York state. I know some of it is up to the individual fire department. What I'm looking for (and I've been searching through NYS municipal law and the OFPC as well as other state specific sources to no avail, is information on what is required, by law, to be a volunteer fire chief.
Several members of my department had a slightly spirited discussion on the topic and while no one got up to see what was required in our local by-laws, a few firefighters INSISTED that there were state requirements that need to be met.
For the life of me, I haven't found them anywhere and thought going here might shed some light for me, or at least point me in the right direction to find an answer.

Thanks for your input. Be safe.

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Here is a quote directly from the OFPC  Firefighter Training and Education; Best Practices Memo that they recently came out with in order to try and standardize training levels in NYS.

F. Fire Officers:

It is recommended that to be capable of appointment or election to a fire officer position a firefighter shall have

completed, at a minimum, training meeting or exceeding:


The knowledge and skill requirements of NFPA 1021 Standard for Fire Officer Professional

Qualifications, Chapter 4 Fire Officer I, Sections 4.2 through 4.7, including:


Safe and effective assignment and supervision of tasks or responsibilities to unit members at

emergency incidents, during training and under routine or non-? emergency conditions;


Direction of members during training;


Human resource management and administration, including employee assistance program



Administrative policies and procedures and records management, including incident reports,

budgets, and personnel records;


Fire inspection procedures and reports;


Building construction and fire behavior;


Scene security and evidence preservation;


Developing and implementing an incident action plan;


Post-incident analysis;


Safety, including injury and accident prevention;


Initial accident investigation; and


Firefighter health and wellness.

Completion of the Fire Officer I (NFPA 1021 2009) course conducted by the New York State

Office of Fire Prevention and Control meets these training requirements.

Fire Chief’s Reference Guide

Chapter 3 Page 25


National Incident Management System (NIMS) I-200.

Completion of this training meets the requirement established by OSHA 29 CFR 1910.156 (c)(1) that fire

brigade leaders [i.e. fire officers] receive more comprehensive training than the general membership of a

fire brigade [i.e. firefighters].

G. Additional Fire Officer Training:

Pre-requisite completion of the requirements of NFPA 1001 Firefighter II and NFPA 1041 Fire Instructor I is

required for Fire Officer I certification pursuant to NFPA 1021 Standard for Fire Officer Professional

Qualifications. It is recommended, where practical, that fire officers comply with the NFPA 1021 Fire Officer

I requirements in their entirety.

Completion of training meeting or exceeding the requirements of NFPA 1021 Standard for Fire Officer

Professional Qualifications, Chapter 5 Fire Officer II should be considered for fire officer positions and responsibilities

beyond the company officer or first line supervisory level. Completion of the Fire Officer II, Fire

Service Instructor I and Principles of Fire Investigation courses conducted by the New York State Office of Fire

Prevention and Control meets the training requirements of that chapter.

Completion of training meeting or exceeding the requirements of NFPA 1021 Standard for Fire Officer

Professional Qualifications, Chapter 6 Fire Officer III and the National Incident Management (NIMS) I-300

course should be considered for the chief of department, assistant chief and deputy chief positions. Completion

of the Fire Officer III course conducted by the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control meets the

training requirements of NFPA 1021, Chapter 6.


You can also reference the code 19 NYCRR Part 426 for career fire officers in NYS.

Hope this helps some.


I know in my department you need to be a warm body, have had some type of training, and born and raised in the town and know everyone...including the Town


Thanks. My department (combination volunteer/career) is a "warm body" department too, but the "powers that be" would still like qualified individuals to be in the leadership positions. Just trying to work out what my particular options may be...

Our bylaws are to be chief you have to have firefighter 1 firefighter 2 pump operators. You also have had to be a line officer for at least one year and a assistant chief for one year. These need to be updated because there are other requirement's and suggestions that the state has that Moose has put on here. All of our chief's have most of them. Most of our guys have Fire arson and awareness. Nims 100-200-300 and 700. Hazmat. Introduction to fire officer. Plus much more.

Has far as the state goes I do not believe they have any requirements to be a chief in a paid or volunteer fire department. They have some suggestions and that is about it.

In our department you have to have at least two years in before you can be a company officer. You have to have started taking either Scene Support Operations (all the exterior parts of FF1) or FF1 within your first year as a member. You can't drive anything until after two years in and you have to pass a written roads (literally knowing every road in the district, kind of like London taxi drivers) before you can start driver training for the apparatus. We teach pump ops and such in house as you train to drive apparatus. Two years as a company third lieutenant then two years as a company second, then two as a first before you become a company captain. You need to have been a company captain before becoming an assistant chief and you have to go up through the ranks again, two years as third, two as second, and two as first assistant chief before becoming THE fire chief and that's only for a two year term... By the end of it, you've served fourteen years (or more) as an officer before becoming chief. Unfortunately, we don't have that kind of longevity in our membership these days so the rules have been bent on occasion to fill slots. It's the fallout of declining volunteer membership and district population. You need arson awareness, the NIMS requirements are national I believe, CPR and HAZMAT First Responder as well. We don't seem to have a requirement (at least in writing) that says you have to be an interior firefighter to be a chief and I wanted to know if there was a greater authority (the state?) that required it.

New York City chiefs go through eight 40 hour weeks of training before they are promoted. That's in addition to all of the training they've had previously (firefighter school, NYS supervisors school, company commander school, to name a few). They are trained in everything under the sun. Plus they average around 20 years experience by the time they make chief.

I forgot to mention our "requirements" to become officer (which I think are not strict enough);

Lieutenant is appointed by the chiefs after elections are completed, we have 2 Lt's usually (this year only one qualified for it) and they are required to have atleast 2 years as firefighter, FF1 or equivilent.

Captains; we have two of those too, both elected and require one year as lieutenant or equivilent service in other department, preparing for command or ICS-100,qualification on all rigs, pump ops.

Asst Chief; 2 positions both elected, one year each as Lt and Captain or similar service as officer in other departments, Fire Officer 2 or equivilent, FBAA/Principles of Investigation.

Chief; one year each Lt, Capt, and asst chief.


I would like to see more command training such as ICS-200 and 300, Haz-Mat Tech, AVET, Wildland Firefighting, Rescue Ops, Ladder Ops and other training added in the ranks.  Wouldnt you rather have someone that is trained tell you how to extricate a person?  Or how to attack a fire?  Or what to do in the initial stages of a haz-mat spill??  Just my 2 cents.

Hi Steven,

Unfortunately there are no qualifications or regulation, only recommendations for the position of Lieutenant, Captain, Assistant Chief, Deputy Chief, and Chief in New York State. As I have travel around not only New York State, but throughout the country I have found people in officer positions with no qualifications all the way to extremely well qualified. I am in total agreement that there should be standardized training and experience requirement in place, so the officer elections and appointments are not a popularity contest. This is not to say that training should be the only requirement, experience on the emergency scene (not just years of belonging to a fire department) should also be required. Because some people can be book smart or able to get through training, but when operating at an actual emergency not be able to function. Again I have seen people in officer positions who have less than a years experience all the way to 50+ years of on scene experience.  Also please note that I say on scene experience, because being an active member of a fire department has many different meanings and some departments being active means being on an list called active firefighter, with no requirement of responding to emergencies or the number of emergencies responded to, as opposed to social or non-active member. I am sure there is going to be some people who disagree with me, but there should be training & experience requirement before some one can become ANY officer position.

Chief, Deputy Chief, Assistant Chief, Division Chief, Battalion Chief, Captain, Lieutenant, and FIRST, FOREMOST, and ALWAYS a Firefighter Kevin C. Ross (I have held all of these position, so if anyone thinks this guy is just saying this because he was never able to get these positions, also I was well trained and experienced before I excepted any of them.) 

I did forget to mention that you also have to be on the department for 3 years before you can run for a line officers position. And yes you have to be a interior FF to be chief in our department. There has been some decision if our line officers need to be interior FF also or not. All of ours are but some don't seem to think it is right.(But that is all for another forum). We have no time limits on our chiefs. All of our positions are by vote. None are appointed. We have elections every year.

How could they be effective officers without being interior FF's?  Were they ever? Who supervises interior?

Does your chief supervise interior operations or is a section officer or "operations" officer assigned?

I'm not trying to argue for a chief who has never been inside a structure fire (I have a few times, backing up the lone firefighter because the other pack people were still donning their gear.... Another discussion for another time.) I just want to know what's so special about having fought a fire from the inside that makes such an experience absolutely necessary to be IC on the outside? If I happened to be the IC on a structure fire (it could happen now as a first lieutenant, even if just for little while) why can't I designate someone to be on control of operations? I would designate someone to direct water supply, someone to direct rehab, RIT/FAST team, ladder ops if it was needed, sector officers around the structure...  I'm not oblivious to the intensity, physical demands, and stress of being interior, I just haven't experienced it on a high level. I would dare say, most interior firefighters haven't experienced how bad it CAN get because many of those that have haven't lived to tell the tale. If someone that went inside, or attempted to go inside and was forced back, reported to me those conditions, I wouldn't send more people in. I trust that my fellow firefighters would use good judgement and NOT put themselves in harms way. I trust that the people that I put in charge of all those other things, the safety officer, accountability (I'm that too right now) would speak freely of their reservations on interior operations if they had them. Frankly, I would ask all my people, or those that I could ask, if they thought an aggressive interior attack would be best or if we should work in a defensive posture first. I believe in strength in numbers and I value other people's opinions. I'm also a strong proponent of constructive criticism and if I'm way base in this, I want people to tell me so.
If you have to be an interior firefighter to be an effective officer than why isn't that a requirement across the board? Why isn't a requirement for an EMS officer, extrication, accountability, safety, rehab, water supply, PIO?????

I'd like to know.

I believe firefighters deserve the absolute best supervision they can get. This includes immediate supervision on interior, preferably from qualified company officers, and command supervision from exterior. At larger incidents a chief could very well be assigned as operations chief or sector commander.

If the chief is delegating every single function, why is he even there? Except to check off boxes on his checklist. The fireground is a very dynamic and fluid environment. There is often just not enough time to poll all the other firefighters before coming up with a plan. Then conditions change, and the plan needs changing, and all the firefighters need to be polled again. It just isn't an efficient system and in this line of work inefficiency can be very dangerous. There is a reason we have a guy who is the chief. The buck stops with him. He needs to know building construction, fire behavior and likely fire travel. He needs to know what the firefighters can and cannot be reasonably expected to accomplish. He needs to be able to predict with a fair degree of accuracy what is going to happen BEFORE it happens. He needs to control ventilation, search and line placement. He needs to be a FIREFIGHTER. Chief officer is not an administrative position on the fireground.

You ask why EMS, extrication, safety, rehab, water supply and PIO don't need to be firefighters. In my opinion most of them should be firefighters (especially safety and accountability, a little less so for extrication). But most of those functions are no where near as dangerous as structural firefighting.

I also believe that ALL states should have minimum requirements in training and experience in order to be a company or chief officer. We all strut around and talk about the dangers of firefighting but then we and the public often settle for unqualified firefighters, officers and chiefs.


How could they be effective officers without being interior FF's?  Were they ever?

Discussion for another day? Why not now? It's been pretty dead in here as of late.

I agree with captnjak here, quite simply you don't see a General or an Admiral in the military who didn't come up through the ranks (officer ranks at least). The best leaders are those who know what they are sending their personnel into and have an idea of what it entails.

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