How To Become A Fire Inspector or Fire Investigator

As citizens, we rely heavily on the expertise of a Fire Inspector or Fire Investigator to keep us safe and search for the cause of a fire when needed. In this capacity, you will assist others in their time of need, often after losing their loved ones, property, and personal belongings. A compassionate heart is a must-have when working in a fire-related field when such tragedies can occur. 

Please take a look at our guide about becoming a Fire Inspector or Fire Investigator below! 

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Table of Contents


Do I need to be a Fireman before becoming a Fire Inspector?

Yes, typically, you will need previous work experience as a Fireman to become a Fire Inspector or Fire Investigator. Most employers will require it.

Is there a difference between a Fire Inspector and a Fire Investigator?

Yes, Fire Inspectors work to prevent fires, and Fire Investigators determine the cause of a fire.   

What does a Fire Inspector do?

A Fire Inspector searches for potential fire hazards by inspecting buildings to be sure they adhere to all safety protocols, as well as state and local codes and regulations. They also: 

  • Test water sprinklers and smoke alarms, 
  • Check emergency evacuation plans,
  • Record violations and do follow-up visits to make sure infractions have been repaired or remedied,
  • Oversee fire safety programs and presentations,
  • Inspect air compressors and fuel tanks,
  • Provide recordkeeping,
  • Monitor controlled burns and burn permits, 
  • And, much more! 

What does a Fire Investigator do?

When a fire does occur, who determines the cause of the incident? A Fire Investigator. They search for where the fire or the explosion originated. They also: 

  • Conduct witness interviews,
  • Document evidence by collecting samples, 
  • Work with laboratories; testing chemicals or fingerprints, along with other evidence,
  • Testify in court to findings, 
  • Keeps detailed records,
  • Takes photographs of damages, 
  • Reconstructs arson events detailed by investigation,
  • And, much more!

What do Forest Fire Inspectors do?

Forest Fire Inspectors prevent and control fires that happen in wooded areas, either in residential or public areas, especially wildfires. They also: 

  • Patrol wooded areas prone to forest fires, 
  • Educate the public about forest fire prevention,
  • Checks weather conditions that might contribute to forest fires, 
  • Makes certain that specific fire codes are enforced, 
  • Keeps detailed records, 
  • Issues violation notices as necessary,
  • And, much more! 

What skills are helpful as a Fire Inspector or Fire Investigator?

Besides the proper training and experience as a Firefighter, Fire Inspectors and Fire Investigators work closely with fellow personnel, as well as law enforcement agencies, the legal system, and of course, the parties involved; therefore, the following skills will be helpful:

  • Exhibit excellent communication abilities; both oral and written, with clear speaking voice, 
  • Understanding of written and spoken directions, as well as state and local codes, 
  • Good penmanship, 
  • Physical and mental strength, 
  • Handles stress well, 
  • Has exceptional critical-thinking and problem-solving abilities, 
  • Is detail-oriented, 
  • Sympathetic to those who have lost personal belongings, property, or loved ones,
  • And, maintain professionalism.

How do I become a Fire Inspector?

To begin, you will need a high school or equivalent diploma. Next, you will need to become a Firefighter. To become a Firefighter, you can obtain your training through a fire academy. 

From here, qualifications can differ depending on the employer. Of course, work-related experience as a Firefighter is required. In addition, you may be required to have an associate or bachelor’s degree in fire science, chemistry, or engineering.

Fire Inspector on-the-job training will be required; in the classroom and on-site. Coursework will include topics like Legal Codes, Handling Hazardous Materials and Explosives, Conducting Inspections, State and Local Codes, Courtroom Procedures, and how to educate others on fire safety, to name a few.

Upon completing your training, you will work a while with an experienced officer to gain the confidence and knowledge needed to work independently.

See the National Fire Academy and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for more information about training.

Are Fire Inspector jobs dangerous?

Obviously, fighting fires is a dangerous job. In fact, in 2020, 62 Firefighters lost their lives while on duty in the U.S., according to In addition, 78 died from on-duty COVID-related exposure. Receiving excellent training and following all safety protocols are a must. 

As a Fire Inspector, your risks may be reduced since you may not be required to fight fires regularly. However, being exposed to smoke, fumes, and hazardous materials is not uncommon.

Do I need certification to be a Fire Inspector?

Many states require certification; therefore, you will need to check your state’s mandates regarding this. Certifications are offered by National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and other reputable organizations.

What kind of salary can I expect as a Fire Inspector or Fire Investigator?

According to the BLS, as of May 2020, the salary for a Fire Inspector or Fire Investigator was $64,610 per year. The highest 10% earned upwards of $100,780 annually.

Are Fire Inspector jobs plentiful?

The BLS projects an 11% job growth rate between 2020 and 2030, adding about 2,100 new job openings on average per year. 

Related jobs include Forensic Science Technician, Private Investigator, or careers in law enforcement, such as the Police or Detective. 

If you would like to pursue an emergency response-related career, consider becoming a Fire Marshall, Paramedic, Fire Chief, Public Safety Communicator, Emergency Medical Technician, Smoke Jumper, to name a few.

Who hires Fire Inspectors?

Local governmental agencies, followed by state agencies, are the largest employers of Fire Inspectors. They work in the office setting, as well as out in the field. Working holidays, nights, or weekends is all in a day’s work, too.