Becoming a Fire Inspector (With Steps)

Fire inspectors play an indispensable role in protecting life and property from catastrophic fires before they begin. They work with city code enforcement agencies, fire departments and other organizations that work with the construction trades and government to ensure that building safety codes are met or exceeded.

Some 73 percent of all fire inspectors work for local (city, county or rural) fire departments, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The remainder of fire inspection professionals take jobs with state or federal agencies, insurance firms and damage assessment companies, or with law offices engaged in property law and damage litigations.

There are many pathways into the profession and employers don’t all require candidates to hold college degrees. However, the BLS says the nine percent in new fire inspector jobs created in the 2020-2020 decade will favor applicants with firefighting experience and post-secondary fire science training.

Fire Inspector Training Programs

As part of the fire department team, inspectors typically rise from firefighter roles. They may be required to hold a two-year degree or certificate. Most agencies require candidates to hold at least a high school diploma or GED and complete formal post-secondary training programs.

  1. Step One Get Involved in Professional Firefighting. As a fire inspector, you’ll need to know state and federal building codes and fire safety regulations. …
  2. Step Two Sign Up for Fire Inspector Training. …
  3. Step Three Earn Certifications and Seek Promotions.

Fire Inspector, Career Video from drkit.org

What does a fire inspector do?

A fire inspector investigates public buildings to make sure they are following fire safety codes and laws. This is important because it can help prevent fires before they begin, possibly saving lives and preventing property damage. They go into these facilities and check many different features of the building such as windows and exits, wiring and heating systems. These professionals might also collaborate with building code agencies and contractors to ensure fire safety compliance during construction. Fire inspectors are also usually experienced firefighters who might perform the duties of this role as well and even perform community fire safety education.

What is a fire inspector?

A fire inspector is an emergency services professional who collaborates with local government agencies to ensure that buildings like schools, hospitals and businesses are in safe operating condition as related to fire danger. They are experts in fire safety and building codes, and they use this expertise to evaluate how safe a building is and whether it can safely open its doors to occupants. Fire inspectors might work for city, county or rural fire departments, or they might work for other government departments or even outside businesses with an interest in fire safety such as insurance agencies and legal firms.

Skills of a fire inspector

Since fire inspectors perform work that helps keep people and communities safe, it is important for them to be highly skilled in their field. Here are some skills that may be important for a fire inspector to demonstrate:

Attention to detail

Fire inspectors are responsible for understanding the intricacies of fire safety regulations and laws, and for noticing compliance or lack thereof in the buildings they inspect. Careful attention to detail can be an important part of fulfilling these duties effectively, which can also help ensure the safety of a buildings occupants.

Communication

Fire inspectors must gain information to evaluate fire safety in a building, often in conversation with a building manger, occupant or owner. They also often communicate necessary safety information to these individuals, such as modifications or adjustments they must make in order to bring a building in alignment with fire safety code. Fire inspectors also coordinate with their own department and team as part of their job. To do these things effectively, they must usually display strong communication skills.

Collaboration

Fire inspectors usually work together with a fire department and a team of safety professionals. They also often collaborate with local, state and federal government agencies as well as building contractors. These teamwork and collaborative skills can help them succeed on the job.

Leadership

Fire inspectors are often responsible for delivering important information to community members and ensuring compliance with rules and laws such as fire safety codes. As such, they must demonstrate strong leadership skills to help gain the trust and understanding of building owners and occupants, so that they may be more likely to adhere to these rules and regulations. Fire inspectors might also levy disciplinary measures such as fines when people violate fire code, which requires leadership skills as well.

Critical thinking

Fire inspectors must exercise good judgment and use critical thinking to do their job well. This is because the safety and well-being of people and buildings often rely on the choices they make regarding fire safety. They must understand many different pieces of information, understand the validity and relevance of that information and then decide which details are most important as related to their inspection duties.

How to become a fire inspector

If a career as a fire inspector seems like a good fit for you, here are some steps you can use:

1. Earn a diploma

Most fire inspectors have earned at least a high school diploma, and probably a two-year degree or more. If you are in high school, finish your studies as effectively as you can. Consider pursuing opportunities and training that will support your goal of becoming a fire inspector, such as CPR and first aid certification or work at a volunteer fire department outside your time in school. If you need an alternative certification, research programs and coursework that can help you get the credential you need. Consider investigating colleges you might attend and determining their requirements regarding a diploma or equivalent.

2. Pursue higher education

Many fire inspectors also have at least a two-year degree. Research programs in your area or in locations where you might be interested in studying, or even online coursework, to find one that works for you. Look for information about major programs of study, tuition and fees and financial aid to help you make informed decisions. Consider exploring fire inspector job listings and paying attention to the education they require, and using this information to guide your education decisions.

3. Gain experience as a firefighter

Most fire inspectors also have experience as a firefighter. Try to gain experience in the fire safety industry by working as a firefighter to build your skills and develop your resume. Consider speaking with a mentor or experienced fire safety professional to determine the best route into this field for you. For instance, you might look for volunteer or apprenticeship opportunities or programs through your college as a first step to working as a firefighter and eventually a fire inspector.

4. Attain additional credentials

Because of the high-stakes nature of their work, fire inspectors must have specialized credentials that certify them to do their job. Seek out certification programs that will allow you to meet the legal requirements for a fire inspector role. Consider inquiring with your employer about sponsored training opportunities, as governments, fire departments and private businesses may be willing to consider training promising fire inspectors for these roles.

5. Specialize your resume and cover letter

Review your resume and cover letter, and make any adjustments you might need in order to emphasize your skill as a fire safety professional. Try to highlight the skills that are most important for a fire inspector, as well as any relevant training and certifications you might have. Consider asking a trusted colleague or mentor to review your documents and suggest changes that might help you successfully apply for fire inspector roles.

6. Apply and interview

Finally, explore openings for fire inspectors in your area as well as other locations where you may be willing to work. Notice industry keywords in each position, and include these in your resume and cover letter when you submit them for specific roles. This can help your resume make it through the automated screening software many employers use. If you are invited to interview for a fire inspector role, try to prepare by researching possible interview questions and holding a mock interview with a colleague or friend. Try to include specific examples in your interview responses to demonstrate the benefits of your skills in the fire safety industry.

FAQ

How long does it take to become a fire inspector in Florida?

To be certified as a Firesafety Inspector I in the State of Florida, an individual must successfully complete a minimum of 200 hours of basic certification training for Firesafety Inspectors, or have received equivalent training in another state, and pass a state written examination.

How do you become a fire inspector in Texas?

REQUIREMENTS
  1. Complete a commission approved Inspector training program.
  2. Qualify for and pass the Inspector exam; you must have an unexpired exam scores on file to qualify for certification.
  3. Complete the fingerprint-based background check by following the instructions found on Fast Pass. …
  4. Apply and pay for certification.

How do I become a fire inspector in Georgia?

Students who have completed all courses or their equivalent become eligible to test for Fire Inspector Certifications through Georgia Fire Standards & Training Council (GFSTC). Pre-requisites are defined by the Council and testing for Certification is separate from the training courses.

How do I become a fire inspector in Michigan?

Answer: In order to become a state-certified fire inspector you must: a) Obtain a Certified Fire Inspector 1 certification from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). b) Meet the certification requirements as outlined in Rule 29.502 of the Fire Inspector Certification Rules.

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