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My Department has recently decided to go from a all Captains department to a split Lieutenants and Captains Department. We are still a rather small combination department staffing 2 stations 24-7 with 9 guys on shift. Under the new system there will be one Captain at each station and the rest of the line officers on that day will be LT's. I was wondering if anyone had any feedback regarding advantages or disadvantages to a officer system consisting of both LT's and Capts as a opposed to a system with just one or the other. Any personal experiences would be great!


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Even if its just a name change now it will led to another step in pay. It is a great for the department and future advancement.
Our department used to run with Capt's and Lt's years ago. The Captain was the CO for the Engine at station 1 and was responsible for the engine and the 2 FF's on the resque squad. The Lt's were the CO's at the outlying stations. The Captains were dubbed "Shift Commander". Then we went to Captains on all of the Engines. The E1 Capt was still responsible for the engine and squad. This worked well enough, but there was not a single contact for each shift. Everything went through the station 1 Captain, but there was no incentive for the added responsiblilty. When our department added 2 additional stations, we went to Shift BC's out of Station one. Now we have Captains on all Engines and a BC to report to on each shift. This really helps keep the day to day operations organized and a good line of communication between the administration and line staff.

I think there needs to be a point person on every shift. Be it the senior captain, shift captain, or BC. Having all stations with equal rank personnel can lead to problems, as well as the outlying Engine Co Lt's
My Department has no lieutenants, just Captains and Deputy Chiefs. The 4 Deputys run the 4 shifts and there are 2 Captains per group. One being in HQ all the time and 1 in one of the outlying firehouses. Where the Captain is depends on what shift is working. We tried to get Lieutenants in a prior CBA but the membership of our union would not go for it, thinking we have too many officers as it is (can you say jealousy factor)
Right now, my department is being ripped apart by budget cuts and facing more this upcoming fiscal year so the officer issue has fallen by the wayside. I personally think there is an advantage to having officers on every engine and truck, especially during an incident....Someone needs to be in charge,plus there are more opportunities to advance up the ladder.
Chicago and metro departments use both Captains and Lieutenants. Generally, a Captain is assigned in each station and that officer is in charge of the station across the three shifts. If there is say an engine and truck in the house there would be one Captain and five Lieutenants. Usually the Captain runs the house and has planning and budget responsibilities for the station needs. The Captain is still a company officer; however, with the added responsibility of running the house etc.......
I would have to say it would depend on what the intent of your rank structure is. If your going to have a split rank structure like that, I would think that you would have one captain assigned either to each shift or have a "station captain" thats in charge of that particular building across three shifts. If the captain is a Shift Captain, I would think that they would be overall responsible for the shift (in the absence of the Fire Chief) and be the highest ranking officer on the fireground. My department's officer structure consists of Lieutenants, Battalion Chiefs, a Deputy Chief then the Fire Chief.

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