How to Become a Fire Marshal
WHAT DO FIRE MARSHALS DO?
Fire marshals are responsible for enforcing the fire code and preventing the devastating results from fire. They do so by analyzing structures and environments for fire hazards, and propose ideas for improvement to prevent such hazardous fire incidents from taking place. Additionally, they investigate and analyze the aftermath of fires to see if there are any new methods for avoiding or preventing fires in the future. Because it is a critical job within the firefighting industry, it requires education and hands-on experience.
Specific duties of fire marshals may vary from state to state, but they often have to travel for work, similar to law enforcement officers. They must be in great shape with physical endurance and be open to working day and night shifts.
HOW MUCH DO FIRE MARSHALS MAKE?
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, fire marshals make an average annual salary of $58,435. Competition is pretty fierce in this industry, with a career growth prediction of only 9% from 2010 to 2020.
A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO BECOMING A FIRE MARSHAL
Step 1: Take required coursework to become a firefighter.
Every state may have different guidelines, so it is important for students to become familiar with the requirements before proceeding. Common academic courses that fire marshals will have to take include fire safety awareness, fire behavior, fire technology, fire investigations, and building fire codes, to name a few. While in school, prospective fire marshals may take online classes or other related coursework as well in the fire science field.
Step 2: Become a firefighter.
Once you have acquired basic knowledge of fire science, you’re ready to begin your career by starting out as a firefighter. Fire marshals work as firefighters for several years and work their way up the rank by proven skills, experience, and education. As a firefighter, you’ll be expected to work with peers to put out fires in rural and forest areas, conduct fire investigations, and many other related tasks. In order to become a firefighter, you must be at least 18 years old, have a high school degree, and be physically fit and strong.
Step 3: Get advanced training.
Unlike firefighters, fire marshals often carry similar responsibilities to that of police officers. They carry guns on the job and have the investigative authority of law enforcement agents. With this said, not only do fire marshals have to train to be physically fit, they have to also complete a training academy to acquire the same training that police officers get. Some subjects covered in such training include criminal justice, forensic data recovery, firearms, patrol tactics, civil rights, and self-defense, to name a few.
Step 4: Apply for work.
Once you’ve acquired the necessary advanced training and firefighting experience, you can apply for open fire marshal positions. Keep in mind that specific duties will vary from state to state, and if you’d like to know ahead of time before starting work in a specific state, it’s recommended that you contact the specific fire department ahead of time to find out. Some promotion exams must be taken and passed before officially getting the position.
Alternatively, aspirants can work their way up to become a fire marshal employed by the local or state government. After working several years as a firefighter, one can go one step up and become a fire marshal trainee, and eventually advance to a deputy fire marshal position before becoming a fire marshal. Fire marshals are found working not only in fire departments, but also at government agencies or law enforcement.
FIRE MARSHAL JOB REQUIREMENTS
Aspiring fire marshals must meet the following requirements to be considered:
- Have a high school diploma or GED; Associate and/or Bachelor’s degree a plus
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have experience as a firefighter
- Must undergo on-the-job training
- Be familiar with protective gear on the job
- Be comfortable working with other emergency services professionals on a need basis
- Be open to working day and night shifts
- Be fit and physically capable
- Be a team player