FireLogo_1Organizational Divisions
The Harlingen Fire Department is divided into a number of divisions and sections. The following is a brief description of the Harlingen Fire Department major divisions.


IMG_3265 (2)The Operation Division is the Harlingen Fire Department's largest division. Personnel assigned to this division respond to emergency incidents from fire stations located throughout the community. The personnel are assigned to a specific 24-hour shift ("A", "B", or "C"). Each shift has two Captains which are responsible for their respective Fire Districts.

The Operation Division responds to fire, medical emergencies, hazardous materials incidents, rescue Aircraft & Rescue Firefighting, and other emergencies. Shift personnel conduct pre-fire planning inspections of businesses and apartments within their respective districts:

  • Participate in continuing education classes and practical skills training
  • Maintain the fire apparatus, equipment, and fire stations
  • Present public education programs to schools and daycares, gives fire station tours, and participate in community events
Fire Prevention

The Fire Prevention Bureau is an essential component of the Harlingen Fire Department. A Deputy Chief oversees the Fire Prevention Bureau and serves as the City's Fire Marshal. A Captain serves as Assistant Fire Marshal. There are also 3 Fire Inspectors assigned to this division. The city has adopted the 2018 International Codes and all 16 volumes of the National Fire Protection Association (N.F.P.A.). The Fire Prevention Bureau uses the National Fire Incident Reporting System (N.F.I.R.S.) to assist with the determination where the most serious fire problems occur within the municipality.

Training Division

The Training Division has the responsibility to provide quality instruction and programs to all fire personnel in order to develop their professional skills.

Fire Administration

The Fire Administration Division, headed by the Fire Chief, Rafael, Balderas, is responsible for the overall operation of the Fire Department. Fire Administration is responsible for the development of the annual budget.
The Assistant Fire Chief is responsible for operations, purchasing, and personnel management. The Harlingen Fire Department Administration staff prepares payroll and maintains account payables records. The Administration staff also prepares the Fire Department's Annual Budget.

Office Emergency Management

The Office of Emergency Management was integrated into the Harlingen Fire Department in 1995. The Fire Chief is the Emergency Management Coordinator for the City of Harlingen.
The Office of Emergency Management is responsible for

  • Maintaining the Emergency Management Plan
  • Managing the Emergency Operation Center
  • Conducting annual disaster exercises
  • Coordinating the planning and preparedness of activities of City Government
  • Preparing and maintaining a resource inventory
fire1Rank Structure
The Harlingen Fire Department is a paramilitary organization with the following rank structure:

  • Firefighter
  • Driver
  • Lieutenant
  • Captain
  • Battalion Chief
  • Deputy Chief
  • Assistant Fire Chief
  • Fire Chief

Promotions to all ranks below the Assistant Fire Chief are decided solely on by scores on a written civil service examination. The Assistant Fire Chief is appointed by the Fire Chief.
Operational personnel make up most of the fire department. Firefighters are assigned to operations to work a 24-hour shift and are off for 48 hours. The firefighting staff is divided into three shifts ("A", "B", and "C"). Firefighters are assigned to a team on a particular fire apparatus (engine, aerial truck, rescue unit) at a fire station.
A Lieutenant is in charge of fire company and is the ranking supervisor. Lieutenants are also responsible for their respective fire stations.
A Captain is responsible for three or more companies which are assigned particular districts. The City is divided into two districts with a Captain in charge of each district.
A Battalion Chief is assigned to training and a deputy is assigned to the Fire Prevention as the Fire Marshal. One Assistant Chief is appointed by the Fire Chief. The Fire Chief is appointed by the City Manager with the approval of the City Commission.