Fire Inspectors have a very important role to play in protecting both human life and property. Their job is to identify potential fire hazards in buildings and do the needful to mitigate them before they prove fatal. In their day-to-day work, fire inspectors examine all kinds of structures to ensure compliance with building codes and all federal/state/local fire regulations.
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They also test fire extinguishers and other safety equipment to make sure they are working properly. Local fire departments tend to be the biggest employers when it comes to fire inspector jobs. However, some professionals also work for insurance companies and law firms/offices dealing with cases of property damage.
If you believe that becoming a fire inspector will be the right career choice for you, then you need to go through this detailed guide. It will tell you what you need to do to achieve your goals.
Should I Become a Fire Inspector?
Office work and field work are both part of a fire inspector’s job duties. In the field, they spend time evaluating buildings while the hours in office are spent compiling detailed reports as well as creating computer models to neutralize potential fire risks.
Entering fire sites and burnt buildings comes with obvious dangers. However, protective gear is available for fire inspectors to safeguard against serious injuries and illnesses. The table below provides information on the education and skill requirements as well as compensation and job outlook for Fire Inspectors.
A High School Diploma or GED (General Educational Development) Certificate is usually enough.
|On the job training; fire academy training
|Certifications for career enhancement are offered by different institutions/organizations
|Strong Decision Making, Active Listening, Speaking, Quality Control Analysis, Critical Thinking, Vision, Office Suite Software, Electronic Mail Software, Database User Interface Software and Query Software.
$69,680 per year (Fire Inspectors and Investigators)
|6% (Fire Inspectors)
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021)
Sources: O*NET OnLine and US Bureau of Labor Statistics
How Many Years of College to Be a Fire Inspector
Even though the minimum requirement to become a fire inspector in the US is a high school diploma, more and more states are now looking to recruit people who have an associate or bachelor’s degree in fire science. These degree programs take two to four years to complete and help firefighters grow in their careers. During the program, students learn about CAD, computer software, fire behavior that teaches the students how a fire can start and what variables influence it to spread, and firefighting principles. Other topics that are covered in fire science degree program are
- Fire Protection System
- Fire Administration and Management
- Fire Codes and Inspection
- Fire Analysis and Investigation
- Fire Safety and Behavior
- Fire Chemistry
To earn an associate degree in Fire Sciences students must complete 60 credit hours. Bachelor’s degree program is fire science requires the completion of 120 credit units.
Steps to Become a Fire Inspector
To become a fire inspector in the US, you will need to take the steps mentioned below.
A High School Diploma along with some training and formal work experience is sufficient for most employers. However, if you decide to go for some postsecondary education in fire science, then that will be beneficial too. There might also be employers who prefer to hire fire inspectors with higher qualifications such as an Associate or Bachelor’s degree in Fire Science.
Once your formal education is completed, you can apply for employment with your local/state firefighting unit. Or you can seek work in the private sector with an insurance company and law firm, etc. In both cases, you will need to complete basic fire science and firefighting training.
The majority of fire inspectors start their professional careers as firefighters. After completing initial firefighting training which lasts for a few months, you will be able to work for the fire department and train further on the job.
Since the aim is to transition towards a fire inspector role later on, you should also take some inspection-specific training during this period. Furthermore, you should try seeking out volunteer opportunities as a student to acquire valuable firefighting experience before formally starting your professional career.
When you are done with training and have some experience of working in the field, you can opt for a professional certification to further develop your skills. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the National Association of Fire Investigators (NAFI) are two major bodies that offer certification programs. These are listed below.
- Certified Fire Inspector I (CFI)
- Certified Fire Inspector II (CFI-II)
- Certified Fire Protection Specialist (CFPS)
- Certified Fire Plan Examiner (CFPE)
How Long Does It Take to Become a Fire Inspector?
The time taken to become a fire inspector will depend on your chosen career path. If you enroll in a fire academy straight out of high school, then the training period will last for a few months. After that, you will work for some years (requirement varies from state to state) as a firefighter while acquiring inspection-specific training on the job.
On the other hand, if you go for post-secondary education such as a Certificate or an Associate degree in Fire Science, then this can take a few months (for a Certificate) or as much as 2 years (for an Associate degree). After that, you will have to undergo fire academy training before starting work in the field.
What Are the Requirements for Becoming a Fire Inspector?
You need to meet the following requirements to become a fire inspector:
- Must be at least 18.
- Should have a High School Diploma at least. Higher qualifications will be more helpful.
- Must have some previous firefighting experience.
- Should undergo firefighting training at a fire academy followed by on-the-job training.
- Must be familiar with the use of all types of fire equipment.
Fire Inspector Salary
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Fire Inspectors and Investigators earned $ 69,680 per year in annual mean wage in 2021.
Below are the top paying states for Fire Inspectors and Investigators:
|Annual Mean Wage
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021)