Fire Department

New York City Fire Department (NYFD) is a New York City Government Department responsible for fire prevention and response, emergency rescue operations , emergency response in cases of biological, chemical or radioactive accidents, as well as the provision of first medical aid to victims of such accidents in all five boroughs (counties) of the city of New York. The department has more than 10,000 firefighters, about 3,500 emergency medical personnel, and more than 1,700 service personnel, making the New York fire brigade the second largest in the world after Tokyo. The department is organized on the basis of the military unit. Administrative and business activities are managed by the Director of the Department, Daniel Nigro, the management of fire brigades is carried out by the Head of the Department, James Leonard.

Fire Department


Like most fire departments of major cities in the United States, the New York City Fire Department is organized in a militarized manner and in many cases follows the structure of a police department.

The executive staff of the department is divided into two areas, the first is the civilian commissioner for fighting fires, who serves as the head of the department and deals with the entire civilian part of the work.

The current Commissioner is Daniel A. Nigro, who succeeded Salvatore J. Cassano in June 2014.

The second part is the executive staff, which includes several civilians responsible for many different bureaus in the departments, and various heads of departments.

The departments are nominally organized in five districts of the city of New York. Within these five districts, there are nine fire departments, each of which is headed by a deputy head of the department.

Within each unit from four to seven battalions, each led by the battalion leader.

Each battalion consists of three to eight fire brigades and consists of approximately 180-200 fire brigades and officers.

Each fire department consists of one to three companies.

Each company is led by a captain who commands three lieutenants and nine to twenty firefighters.

Ranks of the FDNY

  • Chief of Department
  • Chief of Fire Operations/Chief of EMS Operations/Chief of Training
  • Assistant Chief/EMS Assistant Chief
  • Deputy Assistant Chief/EMS Deputy Assistant Chief
  • Division Chief (Division Commander)/Chief Inspector Fire Prevention/EMS Division Chief/Senior Chaplain
  • Deputy Chief/EMS Deputy Chief
  • Battalion Chief (Battalion Commander)
  • Battalion Chief
  • Captain (Company Commanding Officer)
  • Lieutenant (Company Officer)/EMS Lieutenant
  • Firefighter/EMT/Paramedic
  • Probationary Firefighter/Probationary Fire Protection Inspector/Probationary EMT/Probationary Paramedic

Interesting facts

In 2000-2003, mortality among firefighters decreased slightly. For example, in 2001, 343 New York firefighters died while on duty at the World Trade Center, destroyed by terrorists on September 11, 2001. For comparison, in 1998, 87 firefighters died, in 2002 – 102. About half of the deaths are recorded during fires.

According to the US Fire Administration, in 2001 there worked over 1 million 078 thousand firefighters in the United States. Of these, only 193 were professionals. 6 thousand people were volunteers who work in other industries and are called upon to fight fire in case of an emergency. The presence of numerous volunteers is mainly due to purely economic reasons: it is more advantageous for municipalities of small settlements not to contain professionals, and in case of need to mobilize their fellow villagers to fight the fire. Thus, the population of the city saves on taxes. The disadvantages of this system include the fact that laymans are about three times more likely than professionals to die in fires.

Long-term statistics show that most American firefighters die during the cold season. The main enemy of firefighters are not injuries sustained during extinguishing the fire and performing other risky operations, but stress and strain. In 56% of cases, fire brigade personnel died as a result of heart attacks and oncological diseases. Injuries caused 28% of deaths. In other cases, firefighters stuck in a burning building, lost consciousness or died in accidents.

Traditionally, American firefighters are not only struggling with fire but also perform a wide range of rescue work. For example, the consequences of Hurricane Isabelle, which hit the United States in September 2003, had to be fought by firefighters who rescued people from flooded houses and cleared roads from fallen trees. With recent electrical outages in all major cities of the northeast coast of the United States and Canada, when millions of people were left without electricity for 36 hours, firefighters performed various rescue operations. Only in New York, the hotline received 80 thousand emergency calls in one night. Firefighters rescued more than 800 people from elevators stuck in skyscrapers.

At the same time, the profession of a firefighter is relatively poorly paid. Fireman of New York, one of the ten most expensive cities in the world, receives $32,724 a year. For comparison, according to the US Department of Commerce, the average American earned $28,272 in 2000.

However, the low salaries of firefighters do not mean that getting on this service is easy. Those who want to become firefighters, equally men and women, must be over 18 or 21 years old (depending on the state norm) and have perfect vision. The applicant must be in excellent physical shape and have no health problems. However, the most important and decisive factor is the intellectual qualities of the future firefighter. He must have at least a high school diploma, which has high marks in mathematics, physics, computer science, etc. A future firefighter should undergo compulsory Fire Service Training. The course consists of two parts – theory and practice. Teaching includes medicine, fundamentals of architecture and construction (emphasis is placed on the study of ventilation, the resistance of materials, etc.). In practical exercises, an excerpt is checked in assessing the situation, the speed at which adequate decisions are made, etc. Firefighters regularly take exams and tests.