What Do Fire Inspectors and Investigators Do?
When it comes to the safety and well-being of others, fire inspectors and investigators have a crucial job that needs to be performed right. People with this occupation are tasked with investigating buildings to make sure everything is in accordance with local fire ordinances. In the event that a fire has already occurred, inspectors will collect information to figure out what caused the fire in the first place. You can never be too cautious, and that is why there is expected to be an ample increase in the need for fire inspectors in the near future. Over the next 10 years, there is projected to be around 440 job openings a year. This means there will be an increase of 6% every year for the next decade.
Fire Inspectors and Investigators Skills and Abilities
Fire investigators need to possess a thorough understanding of their local and state regulations for how buildings need to be constructed to handle a fire. A background in legal codes and court procedures can prove to be helpful. Knowing how to conduct tests and perform quality control analyses is necessary, and you should possess critical thinking skills to identify solutions to issues. Fire inspectors regularly need to make prompt judgment calls, so the ability to weigh the pros and cons of a course of action is essential. The capability of seeing small details can prove to be invaluable. If you are investigating possible causes of a fire, knowing about specific chemical processes can make the task much easier.
Fire Inspectors and Investigators Duties
In addition to the primary responsibilities mentioned above, you will also be accountable for explaining various problems to property owners so that they know exactly what needs to be corrected and why it is a problem. You may also need to attend classes to remain current on any new laws or codes that are passed. If a building failed an inspection, you will be expected to perform a follow-up investigation to make sure any and all problems were taken care of. After a fire, you will need to take photographs and package evidence in order to reach a conclusion. Other duties can include:
- Testifying at legal proceedings.
- Writing reports.
- Educating the general public.
- Issuing permits.
- Processing forensic evidence.
- Interview people to gather information about a potential crime.
Fire Inspectors and Investigators Tools and Technology
When examining buildings, you will need to be familiar with temperature monitors, smoke detectors and sprinkler systems. You should also know how to use catalytic combustion detectors as well as gas detectors if you are investigating a fire. Screwdrivers, levels and crowbars may also need to be used in potential crime scenes.
Education and Training for Fire Inspectors and Investigators
Most people can enter this field with just a high school diploma, but something equally as important is getting at least five years of work experience under your belt. It can also prove to be beneficial to take programs on fire prevention, fire science and arson investigation to enhance your worth as a fire inspector.
Fire Inspectors and Investigators Salary
This job tends to pay fairly well even if you are just starting out, and the lowest salary fire investigators tend to make is around $34,000 annually. The median wage across the country is closer to $56,000 while truly experienced fire inspectors can make $90,000 a year or more.
Fire Inspectors and Investigators Jobs by Geography
Local and state governments have the greatest need for skilled fire inspectors and investigators, and the states where you are going to find the highest employment levels for this job are New Jersey, New York and California. This is a rewarding and worthwhile career to pursue, so consider all of this information if you are interested in becoming a fire investigator.