Role Structure in the British Fire Service

Insignia worn in the British Fire and Rescue Service

At the turn of the century the Fire Brigade was a branch of the the Police Force (thus fire bobby) and the rank structure was that of police. When the Fire Service was made independent of the police a new rank structure and markings was designed for the uniform which was revamped in 1960’s. Now there are numerous styles used but the insignia remains constant. There are basically two uniforms worn by a firefighters, a working or undress uniform and a fire tunic.

Originally all uniforms had epaulettes and this is were the rank marking were worn. The rank markings are made of chrome metal or embroidery on navy blue material. They now can be worn on the epaulettes or the collar. They consist of 12.5mm and 3mm bars, large and small impellers [they are not pips] and laurel wreaths, these are used in different configurations.

The original fire tunic was based on a lancer uniform with epaulettes and the rank marking based on cavalry insignia. It consisted of 12.5mm bars, horseshoes, straps and different thickness of chain mail. In the 1960’s this was changed and the undress uniform insignia was used on fire tunics. When the latest type of tunic was introduced it had no epaulettes consequently cloth ranks markings were used so you did not need to puncture the water proof material. [This was also because of health and safety considerations]. Fire and Rescue Services now fix the rank markings to the collar of their uniforms except were formal undress uniforms are used and then they use the epaulettes.

Present day ranks structure has been superceded by a role based structure which means the marking you see worn by fire officers has been modified.

Firefighter
Crew Manager
Watch Manager
Station Manager
Group Manager
Area Manager
Brigade Manager
 

Role Abbreviation Responsibilities Role collar markings Helmet
Firefighter Ff Check role map None Yellow helmet, no markings

New Helmet FF
Crew Manager CM Check role map CM Rank Markings Yellow helmet, two 12.5mm black bands

New Helmet CM
Watch Manager WM Check role map  WM Rank Markings White helmet with black comb 12.5mm black band
New Helmet WM
Station Manager SM Check role map SM  Rank Markings White Helmet with black comb 19mm black band

New Helmet SM
Group Manager GM Check role map GM  Rank Markings White Helmet with black comb 19mm & 12.5mm black bands

New Helmet GM
Area Manager AM Check role map AM Rank Markings White Helmet with black comb two 19mm black bands

New Helmet AM
Brigade Manager BM Check role map Brigade manager BM Rank Markings White Helmet with black comb 38mm black band

New Helmet BM
Deputy brigade manager BM Rank Markings
Assistant brigade manager BM Rank Markings

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The above information is in accordance with Dear Chief Officers Letter no5 of 2004, Item C (DCOL 5/2004 Item C) and the images were supplied by Bruce Wilson.

 

The Old Fire Service Rank Markings.

Firefighter
Leading Firefighter
Sub Officer
Station Officer
Assistant Divisional Officer
Divisional Officer
Senior Divisional Officer
Assistant Chief Fire Officer
Deputy Chief Fire Officer
Chief Fire Officer

Role Abbreviation Responsibilities Rank markings Helmet
Firefighter Ff General station Duties Firefighter markings Yellow helmet, no markings

fire fighters Helmet
Leading firefighter Lff Officer in charge of an appliance Lff Rank Markings Yellow helmet, 12mm black band

Lff Helmet
Sub officer SubO Officer in charge of a watch or deputy officer in charge of a watch SubO Rank Markings Yellow helmet, two 12mm black bands

SubO Helmet
Station Officer StnO Officer in charge of a watch or station commander White helmet with black comb 12mm black band

StnO Helmet
Assistant Divisional Officer ADO Station commander or staff duties ADO Rank Markings White helmet with black comb 18mm black band

ADO Helmet
Divisional Officer (Grades I II III) DO Command Officers Divisional Officer Rank Markings White helmet with black comb 18mm & 12mm black bands
Divisional Officers Helmet
Senior Divisional Officer SDO Commander, Functional and Division Senior Divisional Officers Markings White Helmet with black comb 18mm & 12mm black bands

Senior Divisional Officers Helmet
Assistant Chief Fire Officer ACFO Assistant to the CFO Assistant Chief Fire Officers Markings White helmet with black comb two 18mm black bands

Assistant Chief Fire Officers Helmet
Deputy Chief Fire Officer DCFO Assistant to the CFO and deputize in his absence Deputy Chief Fire Officers Markings White helmet with black comb two 18mm black bands

Deputy Chief Fire Officers Helmet
Chief Fire Officer CFO General Brigade Manager Chief Fire Officers Markings White helmet with black comb 40mm black band

Chief Fire Officers Helmet

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March 28, 2011[Last updated: December 14, 2015]

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