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  • Fire Department vs Fire Company

    I'm confused...What is the difference between a fire "department" and a fire "company". Is the "department" a branch of the local government and the "company" an entity that contracts with the local government???

  • #2
    In NYS -

    A Fire Company (as defined by NYS Executive Law 155-a.) 2. "Fire companies" shall mean fire companies goverend by the not-for-profit corporation law.

    A fire Company may be part of a fire department.....and from the Heritage Dictionary -
    fire department

    noun
    A department, especially of a municipal government, whose purpose is preventing and putting out fires.

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    • #3
      Just to muddy the waters (although pasobuff has the basic legal meanings right, at least for NYS), an individual unit within a fire department (ie, engine, truck, rescue, etc) is usually referred to as a "company."

      There is no real consistent answer - my not-for-profit firefighting organization is the "... Fire Department, Inc." We contract with our fire district to provide the manpower, but no money changes hands. The contract mostly delineates our response area and a few other legal points.

      A "Fire Company, Inc" may be structured with and engine company or two, a truck company, etc.
      Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

      Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

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      • #4
        The Fire Service in many ways is based on the military organizational structure.

        The Fire Department can be have several layers within the structure.

        Fire Dept - the Organizational Command or entity, whether City, town, county or private.

        Division - Today these are defined by purpose within the Dept; Operations, Inspections, Code Enforcement, Training, etc.

        Battalion - Usually a Station or group of Stations, based on Sector, Area, or Location within the Division or City.

        Platoon - Platoons now are usually the Firefighters working 24hr Shift Schedules

        Company -> Several Companies can be part of a Battalion or Platoon - the Operational component of the fire dept. These are usually referred to by the type of Company; Engine, Truck, Ladder, Service, Wildland, Rescue, Medical, etc.

        Team (or Squad) - Special designation like EMS

        Firefighter - The guy that works for a living.

        Depending on the organization size, all or few of the layers may be in place. There can be other designations, sub-departments or catagories.
        HAVE PLAN.............WILL TRAVEL

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        • #5
          I'm not talking about a company as in a truck company or engine company. I'm talking about company as in the "Kentland Fire Company"

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          • #6
            Here in my little state I call home, there's no difference at all - its simply a name choice.
            Career Fire Captain
            Volunteer Chief Officer


            Never taking for granted that I'm privileged enough to have the greatest job in the world!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by pasobuff View Post
              In NYS -

              A Fire Company (as defined by NYS Executive Law 155-a.) 2. "Fire companies" shall mean fire companies goverend by the not-for-profit corporation law.

              A fire Company may be part of a fire department.....and from the Heritage Dictionary -
              fire department

              noun
              A department, especially of a municipal government, whose purpose is preventing and putting out fires.
              In much of Pennsylvania, as in New York, volunteer fire companies are not part of the municipal government. Instead, they are self governing non-profit corporations. In addition to line officers they have a corporate structure that includes a President, Secretary and Treasurer among other corporate officers. They also have boards of directors or some form of directors or trustees. These people manage the business side of the company. The municipality accepts and/or contracts with the company to provide its services. It may or may not provide funding to the company, and any funding that is provided can be in varying forms.

              The term fire department infers a branch of the municipal government much like a police department, funded by and directly answerable to that government.

              That being said, many of us do use the term "department" but its use may not be strictly correct.

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              • #8
                Fire company is the firefighters visiting another station. You may also call a single firefighter visiting your private home "fire company."
                Logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by chiefengineer11 View Post
                  In much of Pennsylvania, as in New York, volunteer fire companies are not part of the municipal government. Instead, they are self governing non-profit corporations. In addition to line officers they have a corporate structure that includes a President, Secretary and Treasurer among other corporate officers. They also have boards of directors or some form of directors or trustees. These people manage the business side of the company. The municipality accepts and/or contracts with the company to provide its services. It may or may not provide funding to the company, and any funding that is provided can be in varying forms.

                  The term fire department infers a branch of the municipal government much like a police department, funded by and directly answerable to that government.

                  That being said, many of us do use the term "department" but its use may not be strictly correct.
                  Thanks chiefengineer11! That seems to be how I thought it worked.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by PaladinKnight View Post
                    The Fire Service in many ways is based on the military organizational structure.

                    The Fire Department can be have several layers within the structure.

                    Fire Dept - the Organizational Command or entity, whether City, town, county or private.

                    Division - Today these are defined by purpose within the Dept; Operations, Inspections, Code Enforcement, Training, etc.

                    Battalion - Usually a Station or group of Stations, based on Sector, Area, or Location within the Division or City.

                    Platoon - Platoons now are usually the Firefighters working 24hr Shift Schedules

                    Company -> Several Companies can be part of a Battalion or Platoon - the Operational component of the fire dept. These are usually referred to by the type of Company; Engine, Truck, Ladder, Service, Wildland, Rescue, Medical, etc.

                    Team (or Squad) - Special designation like EMS

                    Firefighter - The guy that works for a living.

                    Depending on the organization size, all or few of the layers may be in place. There can be other designations, sub-departments or catagories.
                    Bingo Crew - A group of volunteer firefighters who work bingo. Usually on a specific night and on a rotating basis. They come home smelling like cigarette smoke.
                    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

                    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

                    "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

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                    • #11
                      This probably comes from "back in the day" when individual fire companies, primarily volunteer organizations, that were formed to provide fire protection for a given area or for those who paid for their protection. Think back to fire marks hanging on buildings, and fire companies supported by fire insurance companies to provide protection to the customers of that insurance company. Large cities in the northeast were protected by these fire companies prior to the evolution of municipal fire departments. I believe that the town of Madison, Indiana was, and still may be, protected by several independent volunteer fire "companies" at least into the early 1990's.
                      As this seems to have evolved, many volunteer fire organizations can trace their roots back to this time, and still use the company name. Some companies that were absorbed by the municipal departments retained their identies as a particular "hose company". Others haven't. I don't think that there is so much difference between a fire company and a fire department, more than likely it depends on where you happen to be standing in this fine country. Some day, someone will be asking "what is the difference between a fire department and a fire protection district?"
                      This in no way is intending to say that the standard definition of a fire company as being fire apparatus, tools and equipment, and personnel assigned to said apparatus that is also a proper definition of a fire (ladder, engine, squad, rescue, etc., etc., etc.,) company.

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                      • #12
                        Here is an example of a difference.....the city I used to live in -

                        You could join one of the 6 'companies' that make up the City Fire Department - as a member, you enjoy the benefits and priveledges of such membership......with this membership, you also apply to join the City FD - usually an automatic approval.....but, there is the chance you could be DENIED.....

                        OR -

                        You could join the City FD (volunteer side, it is a combination dept)........and be a firefighter.....HOWEVER - you are NOT a member of any individual Company - therefore have no ties as far as Workers' Comp, training authorization, etc.....I don't know if this was ever done in the Dept.....

                        Also, City FD membership has to be approved by the Mayor.....while Company membership is voted on by the Company.....

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                        • #13
                          I have 2 separate fire companies in town, which together, make up the fire department.
                          "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Bones42 View Post
                            I have 2 separate fire companies in town, which together, make up the fire department.
                            BINGO!! Exactly!

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Bones42
                              I have 2 separate fire companies in town, which together, make up the fire department.
                              That's how ours works, with a few more "companies" to make up the Department.

                              Question though... If it is a single station Department, could they call themselves a Company in lieu of Department???

                              FM1
                              I'm the one Fire and Rescue calls, when they need to be Rescued.

                              Originally posted by EastKyFF
                              "Firemens gets antsies. Theys wants to goes to fires. Sometimeses they haves to waits."

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