Year in and year out there are spate of fire chiefs either fired or coerced to resign. This occurs in large metropolitan fire departments, small rural departments and all stops in between.
Whether promoted from within or hired from outside the department, a new fire chief is, at least in the short term, a disruption. Some departments need a disruption, as when the late chief Thomas Carr took over the Charleston (S.C.) Fire Department following the Sofa Super Store fire.
For other departments, the value of a disruption is less clear. When you step back and look at the issue, it begs the question that we put to our readers: Are fire chief's expendable?
What do you think? Keep the conversation going by adding your comments below.
"No, a fire chief is never expendable. They are needed in the department to provide not only leadership and management, but they are also invaluable to the rest of the department to share their knowledge and experiences. A good chief will always be there for his crew, look out for and fight for them and the department. You may not like the person who is chief, but you need to respect the title." — Sean Corrigan
"Trick question. The role of chief isn’t, but in a lot of departments the position is by a popular vote and not skill. There are a lot of chiefs that shouldn’t even be a captain let alone chief. If the position is based on training and testing, it’s deserved." — Pat Rourke
"They can make or break the department! So, the answer is no." — Greg Jeppson
"My fire department has had the same fire chief for 27 years and we have yet to fall behind or lose track of today's firefighting and safety standards. If you have the right chief in place, let them continue on. There's no need to put a time limit on something that is good and is working out." — Jeremy Chance
"No, chief's aren't expendable, but the inadequate ones should be fired a.s.a.p." — John Herlihy
"It depends on the chief. Some are worth their weight in gold while others aren't worth the price of the protective radio they wear around." — Justin Waalkes
"In one sense, yes. If a chief has allowed themselves to let new innovations and safety developments pass them by, then it's time for new leadership. Stress becomes more of a factor after time as well. However, a chief who takes the initiative to continually learn while keeping their firefighters safety as a priority, experience is not expendable. In fact, experience is the best teacher and should always be utilized." — Gary Schlotterbeck
"As far as individuals go, everyone is expendable and replaceable." — William C. Boyd
"As a chief, I’m compelled to sound off with a resounding “no!” However, I have seen too many in the position that should not have been there." — Kyle J. Ward