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Career Profile: Fire Inspectors and Investigators

Inspect buildings to detect fire hazards and enforce local ordinances and state laws, or investigate and gather facts to determine cause of fires and explosions.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 15,500 people employed as fire inspectors and investigators in the United States. The median annual salary is $64,600. Entry level employees earn approximately $40,190 per year and senior employees earn approximately $100,730 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Prepare and maintain reports of investigation results, and records of convicted arsonists and arson suspects.
  • Testify in court cases involving fires, suspected arson, and false alarms.
  • Package collected pieces of evidence in securely closed containers, such as bags, crates, or boxes, to protect them.
  • Conduct inspections and acceptance testing of newly installed fire protection systems.
  • Analyze evidence and other information to determine probable cause of fire or explosion.
  • Instruct children about the dangers of fire.
  • Photograph damage and evidence related to causes of fires or explosions to document investigation findings.
  • Examine fire sites and collect evidence such as glass, metal fragments, charred wood, and accelerant residue for use in determining the cause of a fire.
  • Inspect buildings to locate hazardous conditions and fire code violations, such as accumulations of combustible material, electrical wiring problems, and inadequate or non-functional fire exits.
  • Subpoena and interview witnesses, property owners, and building occupants to obtain information and sworn testimony.
  • Conduct internal investigation to determine negligence and violation of laws and regulations by fire department employees.
  • Test sites and materials to establish facts, such as burn patterns and flash points of materials, using test equipment.
  • Dust evidence or portions of fire scenes for latent fingerprints.
  • Arrange for the replacement of defective fire fighting equipment and for repair of fire alarm and sprinkler systems, making minor repairs such as servicing fire extinguishers when feasible.
  • Issue permits for public assemblies.
  • Supervise staff, training them, planning their work, and evaluating their performance.
  • Develop and coordinate fire prevention programs, such as false alarm billing, fire inspection reporting, and hazardous materials management.
  • Conduct fire code compliance follow-ups to ensure that corrective actions have been taken in cases where violations were found.
  • Inspect properties that store, handle, and use hazardous materials to ensure compliance with laws, codes, and regulations, and issue hazardous materials permits to facilities found in compliance.
  • Write detailed reports of fire inspections performed, fire code violations observed, and corrective recommendations offered.
  • Identify corrective actions necessary to bring properties into compliance with applicable fire codes, laws, regulations, and standards, and explain these measures to property owners or their representatives.
  • Develop or review fire exit plans.
  • Inspect and test fire protection or fire detection systems to verify that such systems are installed in accordance with appropriate laws, codes, ordinances, regulations, and standards.
  • Coordinate efforts with other organizations, such as law enforcement agencies.
  • Attend training classes to maintain current knowledge of fire prevention, safety, and firefighting procedures.
  • Review blueprints and plans for new or remodeled buildings to ensure the structures meet fire safety codes.
  • Teach fire investigation techniques to other firefighter personnel.
  • Conduct fire exit drills to monitor and evaluate evacuation procedures.
  • Teach public education programs on fire safety and prevention.
  • Recommend changes to fire prevention, inspection, and fire code endorsement procedures.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
15,500
Annual Openings:
1,500
Increase in Openings by 2031:
3%
Annual Salary Range:
$40,190 - $100,730
Education Requirements:
Some college