Fire inspectors inspects buildings to identify fire hazards as well as provide training to the public on fire safety. These positions require state and national certification. There are three levels of certification available.
Most fire inspectors are firefighters who have sought state or national certification in fire inspection. This is a valuable skill that helps keep buildings safe by identifying hazards that could lead to fires. Fire investigators are a subset of fire inspectors who help to determine the cause of a fire, especially during arson investigations.. There are three levels of certification. Each comes with its own set of prerequisites and written exam. Certification programs may require training and applicable experience.
|Career||Fire Inspector and Investigator|
|Required Experience||Some states require training programs or practical experience|
|Licensure & Certification||Certification at the state or national level is required|
|Examination Requirements||Passage of a written test is required by all credentialing entities|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||6% for fire inspectors and investigators*|
|Average Salary (2015)||$59,800 for fire inspectors and investigators*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Fire Inspection Certification Requirements
Fire inspectors are usually trained firefighters who are certified to inspect existing structures and new construction for fire safety codes. They are authorized to respond to complaints, issue code violations and work with property owners to resolve existing issues. A fire inspector also assists in the investigations of fires and regularly provides education to the public on fire prevention. State health boards require fire inspectors to become certified through state or national programs.
Prospective fire inspectors must pass a written test to receive the first level of fire inspection certification. Prerequisites required to qualify for testing varies by state and could include completion of an inspection training program and several years' experience in firefighting, prevention or inspection services. The test covers building codes, legal procedures, field inspection methods, fire behavior and fire prevention strategies.
A second-level fire inspection certification exam tests additional knowledge of underground fire suppression systems, hydrants and standpipes, as well as structural rating codes for fire prevention strategies. Examination questions cover complex fire issues, occupancy classifications and installation methods for fire suppression and prevention systems. The third certification level is the most advanced and designed for those in a managerial role. Topics cover fire policies, enforcement standards and industrial safety standards.
Fire Inspection Training and Course Requirements
In order to qualify for certification testing, eligible firefighters and other fire service professionals must complete a state-approved training program that covers prevention, inspection, explosives, citations and first response procedures. Some colleges, state agencies and safety-related organizations, such as the NFPA, offer fire inspection training programs and courses (www.nfpa.org). The goal of these programs is to ensure that a consistent process is used by all inspectors, setting the standards for professional conduct in their jobs and in the community. NFPA and state training courses can usually be used for college credit if professionals choose to eventually pursue a degree in fire sciences.
Some common courses include fire behavior and causes, building and fire codes, occupancy standards and fire prevention and suppression systems. Students in these programs learn how to gauge and anticipate the effects of a fire based on building materials, available accelerants, structural integrity and weather, assessing these factors against allowable fire codes. Prevention techniques, equipment and system classifications and installation procedures are also covered.
Salary and Employment Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for fire inspectors and investigators was $59,800 in May, 2015. The BLS projects that jobs for this group of workers will increase by 6% over the 2014-2024 decade.
Fire inspector certification requirements vary by state. Certification requirements usually include experience in firefighting, completing inspector training and passing an exam for each level of certification. Inspector positions have an average annual salary of about $60,000.