logo for print

Is 20 too young to be a fire chief?

With age, firefighters gain more experience, training and fire education; here's what our Facebook fans had to say about a recent 20-year-old being named fire chief


When a 20-year-old was named fire chief at a department in Harrison Township, Ohio, it stirred up controversy over whether age and experience matters in such a high-responsibility position.

We asked our Facebook fans if they thought age, as well as experience, matters when choosing a fire chief.

Some said that while he is young, he could bring new ideas to the table, positive change and commended him for accepting such a big responsibility. Others, however, said a chief should have many more years of experience to fully understand fire and its unpredictable behavior.

If you haven't already, be sure to add your thoughts in the comment section below. 

"At 20 years old, a man can find himself as a platoon sergeant in a combat zone, making life or death decisions for possibly more than 30 people. Don't ever judge someone on their age." — Rich Fowler

"In my opinion, 20 is way too young. There is not a great deal of experience. You can be the best student in your classes and have book smarts, but until you start seeing fire and understand it and its behavior, you don't know anything." — Dave Page

"I think that he's too young. But if he’s named chief, there must be a reason behind it. He’s a brother and I’ll stand behind him." — Tony Foster

"He can't even buy his guys a round of drinks. He has two years of experience at the most! How can you honestly run a department like it needs to be run and teach the newcomers the ropes at that age?" — Ryan Sizemore

"I was a chief at age 22. Age is just a number. As long as he has support and guidance, he will be fine." — Adam Bushey

"My department-issued belt buckle is two years older than he is." — Tim Fortner

"As a member of a volunteer fire department, I would rather have someone with more experience under his belt to be fire chief. At the most, he has only been an active firefighter for two years. Another thing to consider, how are his leadership skills? Has he held any other rank where he has had to make decisions in this manner?" — Charlie Gamache Sullivan

"Ordinarily, I would say 20 isn't old enough to have a great deal of life experience. However, cutting this guy off at the knees simply because he's young would only serve to hurt him and the community he serves. For all we know, he may have a wealth of old timers mentoring him along the way. Wisdom comes at different times for different people." — Everette Taylor

"I'm a 24-year-old chief and was elected when I was 23. Obviously, I lack certain experiences that come with decades of service, but I think I more than make up for it in other ways. Being a strong leader and having natural common sense is more important. Not to mention that I have a group of mentors with hundreds of years of combined experience supporting me. Every situation is unique. Don't be so quick to judge." — Nathan Wulff

"He lacks the practical experience and may have difficulty with others taking his command seriously." — Charlie Brose

Recommended for you

Join the discussion

Education and Training

Sponsored by

Copyright © 2017 FireRescue1.com. All rights reserved.