Fire Marshals are also known as Fire Inspectors or Fire Investigators. They survey the buildings to evaluate potential hazards and ensure that buildings are constructed in accordance with safely codes and are properly maintained later on.
Should I Become a Fire Marshal?
The duties of a Fire Marshal may vary depending on the location and type of industry they choose to work in. However, general duties of a Fire Marshal include;
- Conducting arson investigations
- Supervising firefighting teams
- Inspecting buildings for potential fire issues
- Teaching classes on fire safety and so on.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has categorized Fire Marshals as Fire Inspectors and Investigators since their duties overlap with those of a law enforcement officers in many states of the US. Fire Marshals often visit arson/fire sites and carry out investigations to find out the reason behind a fire.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2019)
Even though you can begin your career in firefighting with a high school degree, becoming a Fire Marshal requires in-depth knowledge about fire prevention, fire alarms, building codes, reporting equipment, techniques to suppress fire, forensic data recovery and fire marshal inspection etc. This knowledge can be gained through certified fire inspection programs as well as an accredited associate’s or bachelor’s degree. In addition to that, Fire Marshals must have sharp critical thinking and communication skills. They must also show leadership and interpersonal abilities to work well in a team. Above all, they must have dedication and commitment to serve their society.
Steps to Become a Fire Marshal
If you have the aptitude for saving lives as a Fire Marshal then, here is a step-by-step guide to help you get started.
To build a career in Firefighting as a Fire Marshal, you may either enroll in a certificate or an associate’s degree in Fire Science at a community, vocational or technical college. However, to have better career opportunities, you can complete a bachelor’s degree in Fire Science, Engineering or Emergency Medical Services. Such degrees are offered by many well-renowned institutions in the US. For example, a Bachelor of Science in Fire Protection Administration and Technology is offered by the California State University. Students of this degree must complete 120 credit hours in 4 years to graduate.
If you want to work as a Fire Marshal after completing high school, you would require in-depth training in fire investigation techniques. Therefore, students in high school should opt for courses that cover topics on hazardous material fires, fire & building codes, legal issues related to fires, arson investigations and so on.
To obtain the position of a Fire Marshal, you may become a Firefighter or an Emergency Medical Technician and get at least 5 years of field experience in the field. Fire Marshals may also get employed as Forest Fire Inspectors and Prevention Specialists. They may choose to work in urban or rural areas.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) offers many different certifications for all Fire Inspectors including Fire Marshals. Certifications offered by the NFPA include:
- Certified Fire Inspector
- Certified Fire Protection Specialist and so on.
- Certified Fire Investigator (CPI) offered by the International Association of Arson Investigators
- Certified Fire and Explosion Investigator (CFEI) certification offered by the National Association of Fire Investigators
Other nationally recognized certifications provided by other organizations include:
Many employers, especially the ones in the private sector, require that the candidates possess the relevant certifications before applying to a specific position. Numerous states in the US have established their own certification exams that coincide with the NFPA standards. Several states require Fire Inspectors to obtain additional training every year to maintain their certifications.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Fire Marshal?
Becoming a Fire Marshal is a lengthy procedure and requires extensive work experience in addition to relevant education and certifications. It may take anywhere between 8 to 10 years before you become a Fire Marshal.
What Are the Requirements of Becoming a Fire Marshal?
To become a Fire Marshal in the US, all candidates must:
- At least possess a high school degree or equivalent
- However, employers typically hire candidate who have a bachelor’s degree in Fire Science, Emergency Medical Services or Law Enforcement experience
- Have a valid state issued driver’s license
- Not have any criminal record
- Be certified in a relevant category
- Have at least 5 years of field experience in firefighting, law enforcement of emergency medical services
How Much Can I Make as a Fire Marshal?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Fire Inspectors and Investigators earned an annual mean salary of $64,730 in 2019 which amounts to $31.12 mean wage per hour. In addition to that, Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services was reported as the highest paying industry for this occupation by the BLS in 2019 with an annual mean salary of $106,580. Moreover, California was listed as the top paying state in the US with an annual mean salary of $107,270.