The fire chief is responsible for carrying out the day-to-day tasks of running a firefighting organization. Such tasks include supervising other officers and firefighters at an emergency scene and recruiting, training, and equipping them for their respective duties. Depending upon local needs and organization, the Chief may also be involved in fire prevention, fire inspection, disaster preparedness, emergency medical services, and related disciplines, as well as administrative duties such as budgets and personnel issues, research into safety and regulations, and liaison with other agencies.
In larger departments, a Fire Chief is often assisted by one or more assistant fire chiefs, deputy fire chiefs, district fire chiefs, division chiefs, and/or battalion chiefs. Collectively, these are known as chief officers, to distinguish them from company officers.
During an emergency incident, the first qualified officer on the scene may "establish command", and then transfer command to the Chief when he or she arrives, as circumstances warrant. The chief may delegate some statutory powers to qualified officers, such as the ability to enter or use private property as reasonably necessary to stop a fire, or to order people or property seized as may be essential to preserving safety or investigating the cause of an incident.
A valuable chief will have many years of experience at all levels of firefighting, as well as superior management skills, especially under the stress of emergency situations.