Fire Inspectors

Career, Salary and Education Information

Following is everything you need to know about a career as a fire inspector with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:

Top 3 Fire Inspector Jobs

  • MDFR BREATHING APPARATUS MAINTENANCE TECHNICIAN - Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue (MDFR) - Miami, FL

    Please apply by July 20, 2018 at www.miamidade.gov/jobs using Job Opening

  • Sprinkler Service Tech - Fire Sprinkler Protection - Millersville, MD

    Please contact us for more details. Offering top dollar for qualified

  • INSPECTOR - NAPCA SEE PROGRAM - Chicago, IL

    BA/BS in environmental/Civil Engineering/Chemical, Workplace Safety, and/or Petroleum, Chemical, Energy, Transportation, Fire Prevention Industry

See all Fire Inspector jobs

What Fire Inspectors Do[About this section] [To Top]

Fire inspectors examine buildings in order to detect fire hazards and ensure that federal, state, and local fire codes are met. Fire investigators, another type of worker in this field, determine the origin and cause of fires and explosions. Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists assess outdoor fire hazards in public and residential areas.

Duties of Fire Inspectors

Fire inspectors typically do the following:

  • Search for fire hazards
  • Ensure that buildings comply with fire codes
  • Test fire alarms, sprinklers, and other fire protection equipment
  • Inspect fuel storage tanks and air compressors
  • Review emergency evacuation plans
  • Conduct followup visits to make sure that infractions do not recur
  • Review building plans with developers
  • Conduct fire and safety education programs
  • Maintain fire inspection files
  • Administer burn permits and monitor controlled burns

Fire investigators typically do the following:

  • Collect and analyze evidence from scenes of fires and explosions
  • Interview witnesses
  • Reconstruct the scene of a fire or arson
  • Send evidence to laboratories to be tested for fingerprints or accelerants
  • Analyze information with chemists, engineers, and attorneys
  • Document evidence by taking photographs and creating diagrams
  • Determine the origin and cause of a fire
  • Keep detailed records and protect evidence for use in a court of law
  • Testify in civil and criminal legal proceedings
  • Exercise police powers, such as the power of arrest, and carry a weapon

Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists assess outdoor fire hazards in public and residential areas. They look for fire code infractions and for conditions that pose a wildfire risk. They also recommend ways to reduce fire hazards. During patrols, they enforce fire regulations and report fire conditions to their central command center.

Work Environment for Fire Inspectors[About this section] [To Top]

Fire inspectors and investigators hold about 12,300 jobs. The largest employers of fire inspectors and investigators are as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals 78%
State government, excluding education and hospitals 9
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 2
Investigation and security services 2
Manufacturing 2

Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists hold about 1,700 jobs. The largest employers of forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists are as follows:

State government, excluding education and hospitals 59%
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 37

Fire inspectors work both in offices and in the field. In the field, inspectors examine buildings such as apartment complexes and offices. They also may visit and inspect other structures, such as arenas and industrial plants. Fire investigators visit the scene of a fire. They may be exposed to poor ventilation, smoke, fumes, and other hazardous agents.

Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists spend much of their time outdoors, assessing the risks of fires in places such as forests, fields, and other natural or outdoor environments.

Fire Inspector Work Schedules

Fire inspectors and investigators typically work during regular business hours, but investigators may also work evenings, weekends, and holidays because they must be ready to respond when fires occur.

How to Become a Fire Inspector[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Fire Inspectors near you!

Fire inspectors and investigators, as well as forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists, typically have previous work experience as a firefighter. These workers need at least a high school diploma or equivalent, and receive on-the-job-training in inspection and investigation.

Fire inspectors and investigators usually must pass a background check, which may include a drug test. Most employers also require inspectors and investigators to have a valid driver's license, and investigators usually need to be U.S. citizens because of their police powers.

Education for Fire Inspectors

Because fire inspectors and investigators typically have previous work experience as a firefighter, many have completed a postsecondary educational program for emergency medical technicians (EMTs). Some employers prefer candidates with a 2- or 4-year degree in fire science, engineering, or chemistry. For those candidates interested in becoming forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists, a high school diploma or equivalent typically is required.

Fire Inspector Training

Training requirements vary by state, but programs usually include instruction in a classroom setting in addition to on-the-job training.

Classroom training often takes place at a fire or police academy over the course of several months. A variety of topics are covered, including guidelines for conducting an inspection or investigation, legal codes, courtroom procedures, protocols for handling hazardous and explosive materials, and the proper use of equipment.

In most agencies, after inspectors and investigators have finished their classroom training, they also receive on-the-job training, during which they work with a more experienced officer.

Employers, such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and organizations, such as the National Fire Academy and the International Association of Arson Investigators, offer training programs in fire investigation.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation for Fire Inspectors

Most fire inspectors and investigators are required to have work experience as a firefighter. Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists typically need firefighting experience before being hired.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Fire Inspectors

Many states have certification exams that cover standards established by the National Fire Protection Association. Many states require additional training for inspectors and investigators each year in order for them to maintain their certification.

The National Fire Protection Association also offers several certifications, such as Certified Fire Inspector and Certified Fire Protection Specialist, for fire inspectors. Some jobs in the private sector require that job candidates already have these certifications.

In addition, fire investigators may choose to pursue certification from a nationally recognized professional association. Among such certifications and associations are the Certified Fire Investigator (CFI) certification from the International Association of Arson Investigators or the Certified Fire and Explosion Investigator (CFEI) certification from the National Association of Fire Investigators (NAFI). The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) also offers a CFI certification. The process of obtaining certification can teach new skills and demonstrate competency.

Important Qualities for Fire Inspectors

Communication skills. Fire inspectors must clearly explain fire code violations to building and property managers. They must carefully interview witnesses as part of their factfinding mission.

Critical-thinking skills. Fire inspectors must be able to recognize code violations and recommend a way to fix the problem. They must be able to analyze evidence from a fire and come to a reasonable conclusion.

Detail oriented. Fire inspectors must notice details when inspecting a site for code violations or investigating the cause of a fire.

Physical strength. Fire investigators may have to move debris at the site of a fire in order to get a more accurate understanding of the scene.

Fire Inspector Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for fire inspectors and investigators is $58,440. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $34,530, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $95,270.

The median annual wage for forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists is $36,230. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,700, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $76,660.

The median annual wages for fire inspectors and investigators in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Manufacturing $70,650
Investigation and security services 62,500
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 58,980
State government, excluding education and hospitals 55,590
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 51,600

The median annual wages for forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals $53,870
State government, excluding education and hospitals 30,660

Fire inspectors and investigators typically work during regular business hours, but investigators may also work evenings, weekends, and holidays because they must be ready to respond when fires occur.

Job Outlook for Fire Inspectors[About this section] [To Top]

Overall employment of fire inspectors is projected to grow 10 percent over the next ten years, faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will vary by specialization.

Employment of fire inspectors and investigators is projected to grow 7 percent over the next ten years, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Fire inspectors will be needed to assess potential fire hazards in newly constructed residential, commercial, public, and other buildings in the coming decade. Fire inspectors will also be needed to ensure that existing buildings meet updated and revised federal, state, and local fire codes each year. Although the number of structural fires occurring across the country has been falling for some time, fire investigators will still be needed to determine the cause of fires and explosions.

Employment of forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists is projected to grow 27 percent over the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, because it is a small occupation, the fast growth will result in only about 500 new jobs over the 10-year period. Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists are expected to be needed to help prevent and control the increasingly destructive wildfires that the United States has been experiencing.

Employment projections data for Fire Inspectors, 2016-26
Occupational Title Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26
Percent Numeric
Fire inspectors 14,100 15,400 10 1,400
  Fire inspectors and investigators 12,300 13,200 7 900
  Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists 1,700 2,200 27 500


*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

Explore more careers: View all Careers or Browse Careers by Category

Search for jobs: