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Chief Fire Officer

Chief Fire Officer

The rank of Chief Fire Officer or CFO is the highest in the fire Service in England and Wales. Its equivalent in Scotland is Fire Master, although this title has been replaced by Chief Fire Officer in some Scottish brigades. Many brigades are also now adopting the rank of Brigade Manager in line with the modernisation of the rank structure by some fire and rescue services. With the changes to the UK fire service in 1974, the title changed to reflect the new county structures and now other titles for this office can include 'County Fire Officer' and 'Chief Executive', neither of which are in common use on their own for example, Greater Manchester FRS use the title 'County Fire Officer and Chief Executive'. In the London Fire Brigade, the CFO is known as Commissioner for Fire and Emergency Planning - the post is currently held by Ron Dobson, he is referred to as Commissioner Ron Dobson. Chief Fire Officers in the UK are represented by the Chief Fire Officers Association, it has a separate section representing principal officers in fire and rescue services in Scotland.

A change of title

The name of the rank is being changed by some UK fire services to 'Brigade manager' as part of an on-going modernisation of the fire service in the UK. CFOs do occasionally attend major incidents, in December 2005, the CFO of Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, Roy Wilsher, spent a great deal of time at the Buncefield oil storage depot. He also hosted press conferences and was part of the major incident gold command team.

The use of the title 'Chief Executive' is deprecated by some firefighters who believe that it creates the false impression that the post is a non-uniformed civilian role. Although the title has been adopted to reflect the modern "business approach" of many fire brigades, almost all Chief Fire Officers have progressed from frontline roles through the rank structure

Responsibilities

A CFO is responsible for the day-to-day command of the fire service in all areas. Ultimately however major policies and procedures have to be agreed and passed by the Fire authority to whom the CFO reports. The Fire Authority is a committee of locally elected councilors. The committee's prime responsibility is to ensure that the fire service is run properly and responsibly. In simple terms the Chief Officer is directly answerable to someone who represents the interests of the general public. The collective voice for CFOs on policy, planning and strategy in the UK is CFOA Chief Fire Officers Association, previously known as CACFOA (Chief and Assistant Chief Fire Officers Association).

Her Majesty's Fire Service Inspectorate

Historically, many CFOs went on to join Her Majesty's Fire Service Inspectorate, or HMFSI. It used to be known as Her Majest'y Inspector of Fire Services and was a government agency directly under the control of the Department for Communities and Local Government. The rank of appointment is known as HMFSI - separate arrangements exist in Scotland. Inspectors are uniformed and seen to be superior to that of a Chief Fire Officer, however they have no power to directly command front line fire crews. In 2007, the role of HMFSI was replaced by the role of Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser whose responsibilities extend to England and Wales. The role of HMFSI Scotland, will continue its role and functions.

A Chief Fire Officer is assisted by one Deputy Chief Fire Officer and a number of Assistant Chief Fire Officers— each of whom will be delegated with commanding one or multiple areas of fire and rescue operations such as training, vehicles and equipment, information technology or human resources.

New Zealand

According to the New Zealand Fire Service Act 1975, a Chief Fire Officer in the New Zealand Fire Service commands a single fire district. This may be a volunteer fire brigade, with a single fire station, in an outer-urban or rural area, or it may comprise of several fire stations in a metropolitan area, staffed by career fire fighters. Auckland and Wellington, with their geographic sprawl, have their career stations divided into multiple districts - two in Wellington (Wellington City, which includes Porirua, and Hutt), and five in Auckland (Auckland City Central, Auckland City East, North Shore, Waitakere (west), and Manukau (south)). The other 14 cities in New Zealand that have career fire fighters are sufficiently compact geographically to allow each one to be a single fire district.

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References

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