How firefighters work in Boston

The Boston Fire Department has six divisions:

Fire and Rescue Services.

The most visible division of the department, this division provides fire protection and rescue services in the city of Boston with uniformed firefighters dispatched and responding to a variety of emergencies. The services provided include fire suppression, emergency medical services, hazardous materials response, vehicle recovery, and other services. The department operates engine companies, ladder trucks, and rescue companies, as well as several specialty units, each of which provides distinctly separate services during a fire or other emergency. These companies and units are subordinated to two divisions that command ten districts.

Fire Prevention

This department is responsible for maintaining records, issuing permits, conducting public education, and inspecting buildings.


This department oversees the development of firefighters from probation to retirement. The unit also conducts research to improve techniques and equipment, evaluating new tools before they are introduced. The emergency medical service and the security department are also part of this division.


This division includes the administrative department, the selection department, the medical office, the personnel distribution department, and the employee assistant program. The department keeps records of each firefighter, communicates with other departments, unions and agencies, and handles grievances, disciplinary hearings and appeals.

Emergency Planning and Preparedness

This department was created in 1996 to replace the Special Services Department, providing the city with an emergency management system, an Emergency Management Office, and a local emergency planning committee.

Special Operations Command

This division was created in 2001 to recommend training, deployment, and equipment for the Boston Fire Department in all areas of rescue services, including technical rescue, CBRN/hazardous materials operations, and dive team and marine unit operations.