Fire Inspector / Arson Investigator Career Guide

Fire Inspectors and Arson Investigators

  1. Fire Inspector Job Description
  2. Points to Consider
  3. Fire Inspector Careers
  4. Fire Inspector Education
  5. Fire Inspector Salary
  6. Fire Inspector Videos
  7. Famous Fire Inspectors
  8. Fire Inspector Schools

Arson Investigators in a burned out house.

Fire Inspectors on the Job

Fire Inspector Job Description

Fire Inspectors and Investigators investigate buildings and properties damaged by fire or an explosion to determine the cause. In case of a suspected arson, a fire inspector and investigator can arrest the suspected arsonist and testify in court or prepare the gathered information for court. Fire inspectors and investigators also inspect buildings to ensure that local ordinances are being met to avoid fire hazards. If violations are found during an inspection, a fire inspector and investigator is responsible for outlining what corrective actions are necessary to bring the building back into compliance and will follow-up to ensure that the improvements are being made. Fire inspectors and investigators also teach prevention, by developing and reviewing fire exit plans, conducting fire drills, explaining fire code requirements to general contractors, developers, architects, and other people involved with the planning and building of a property, and they may even teach public education classes on fire prevention and safety.

Points to Consider

  • A fire inspector and investigator must be physically sound as they often will be working in and around the remains of a fire. Working with poor ventilation in unstable structures is an expected part of the job, and they may be required to lift heavy objects and climb ladders.
  • A fire inspector and investigator must have extensive knowledge of ordinances and laws at the federal, state, and local levels, and have a firm understanding of products used and found in construction, buildings, and properties and their flammability factor.

Specialized Fire Inspector Careers

  • Fire Inspectors focus solely on inspecting buildings and properties to ensure that they are up to code in regards to fire prevention and suppression.
  • Fire Investigators focus solely on investigating burned buildings or properties to determine the cause of the fire and may apprehend suspected arsonists and testify in court.
  • Forest Fire Inspectors patrol national forests and parks to ensure travelers and campers comply with fire regulations. They are constantly on the watch for all dangerous or suspicious fires.
  • Prevention Specialists are responsible for teaching the general public about fire safety and prevention.

Fire Inspector Education

A high school diploma is sometimes the only education requirement, but a college degree is often required, and applicants who have the education, experience, and training related to criminal investigation have the advantage. Training academies to obtain certification as a Fire Safety Inspector or a Firefighter is usually required.

Fire Inspector Salary

Wages vary greatly by specialty and location, and agency, but the average yearly wage is $53,030.00

Fire Inspector Training Video


Famous Fire Inspectors

  • John Orr was a former arson investigator for the Glendale Fire Department in California, and to much surprise, a serial arsonist. He is currently serving life in prison.
  • Karen Barnes is a Fire Investigator with Norfolk, Virginia Fire-Rescue, and was the recipient of the 2011 Governor's Fire Service Award for her work in uncovering dangerous practices at Atlas Fire Protection Services.
  • Smokey the Bear with his famous warning “only you can prevent forest fires”, is the longest running campaign in Ad Council history.

Ready to get started?

Check out our list of Fire Inspector and Arson Investigation Schools