Chief fire officer

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Chief fire officer (CFO), formerly often just chief officer, is the highest rank in the fire and rescue services of the United Kingdom. There are currently 50 chief fire officers serving in the United Kingdom in charge of the local authority fire services. There is also a chief fire officer responsible for the Ministry of Defence Fire Services, which includes the Defence Fire and Rescue Service and the RAF Fire Service. Some UK airport fire services also designate their seniors officers as CFOs, though these officers rarely wear the same rank insignia as a local authority chief fire officer.

Other titles for this office can include county fire officer and chief executive, neither of which are in common use. Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service does, however, use the title of county fire officer and chief executive'.[1] Kent Fire and Rescue Service's chief executive is in charge of maintaining the service; however, they are not a trained firefighter and cannot carry out frontline firefighting or incident command, and those roles are passed down to the director of operations. In the London Fire Brigade, the CFO is now known as the commissioner for fire and emergency planning. Chief fire officers in the United Kingdom are represented by the National Fire Chiefs Council (formerly the Chief Fire Officers Association); it has a separate section representing principal officers in fire and rescue services in Scotland.[2]

In Scotland, the CFO was traditionally referred to as the firemaster, although this title was replaced by chief fire officer in Scottish brigades in 2006 when the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 came into force. Under proposed changes, chief fire officers were to be renamed brigade managers in line with modernisation directives issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government. However, the title is unpopular and has so far not been used.

Most chief fire officers are former frontline firefighters who have risen through the ranks. A few brigades have, however, employed chief fire officers with other career backgrounds.[3]

A chief fire officer is assisted by one deputy chief fire officer and a number of assistant chief fire officers, each of whom is delegated with commanding one or multiple areas of fire and rescue operations, such as training, vehicles and equipment, information technology, or human resources.