Fire Department – Reduce the Number of Fire Suppression Districts to Four

Savings: $1.9 million

The Fire Department’s fire suppression activities are organized into six districts across the City.  Each district has one District Chief and several Deputy District Chiefs (DDC) to ensure that one DDC is on duty at all times.  Within fire suppression, the hierarchy of positions is shown in the table below.

Hierarchy of Ranks in Fire Suppression

District Chief

Deputy District Chief

Battalion Chief





Under this option, the City would eliminate two fire suppression districts.  Assuming a proportional reduction in staffing, this reduction would allow for the elimination of two District Chief positions and eight DDC positions.  Using the 2011 appropriated salaries for these positions, the table below shows the savings from eliminating these positions.


Number of Positions Eliminated

Total Salaries

Fringe Benefits @ 35% of Salary

Total Compensation Costs

District Chief





Deputy District Chief









Proponents might argue that the Fire Department has a top heavy management structure and that reducing the number of districts would not adversely change the battalion chief and company officer management structure.  They might point to the 1999 CFD-commissioned study by TriData that called for a long-term shift to four districts.[1]


Opponents might argue that District Chiefs and DDCs provide an important non-union management layer, whereas company officers and battalion chiefs are members of the same union as the firefighters they supervise.  Thus, reducing the number of Chiefs and DDCs would create a gap in supervision.  The TriData study noted that “until the Battalion Chiefs fulfill their managerial responsibilities more completely…the larger number of exempt positions is necessary”.[2

Budget Details

Dept: Fire Department, 59 Bureau: NA
Fund: Corporate Fund, 0100 Approp Code: Salaries and Wages – On Payroll, 0005
The appropriation is located on pages 185 and the position schedule begins on page 189 of the 2011 Annual Appropriation Ordinance.


[1] The TriData recommendation was slightly different as it recommended four districts reporting to two Assistant District Chiefs leaving the number of District Chief positions the same.  Additionally, the study calculated that eliminating two districts would only reduce the number of DDCs by six.  However, with 25 current DDCs, if the City cut the number of districts by one-third, a proportional one-third cut in the number of DDCs would result in the elimination of eight DDC positions.

TriData Corporation. “Comprehensive Review of the Chicago Fire Department”. June 1999. pg. 22.

[2] Id., pg. 22