Fire science is much more than fighting fires. Other career opportunities include fire investigator or fire inspector. On the research side, one can study the behavior of fires, or develop fire prevention or fire containment systems. Additional education and experience can lead to becoming a station fire chief or city fire department director. Others may manage a fire research department.
Fire inspectors search buildings for fire hazards and code compliance. They also test fire equipment and review evacuation plans. Some may work with project developers to make sure the new buildings will be fire safe.
As a fire investigator, one will go to the scene of the fire to interview witnesses, collect and inspect evidence, take pictures of the damaged structure, and make diagrams. Investigators work to both reconstruct the fire and discover its cause. Some may work with other specialists such as engineers or chemists for help with analyzing and testing evidence.
Working as a fire inspector or investigator, the median salary is 50,000. A fire chief’s median salary is $70,000 annually. Employees in large cities will earn more than an employee in a rural area.
Originally firefighters were hired right out of high school and went through training at the fire department academy. Afterward, candidates went through on the job training. In smaller communities this may still be acceptable.
Now, most fire departments would like new employees to have at least an associate’s degree in fire science. In the associate’s program, students will learn building construction, fire investigation, fire prevention, code enforcement, protection systems, hazardous materials, and emergency services management. Students may also learn about EMT Services and wildfires.
In order to become a fire inspector one must earn become a Certified Fire Investigator through one of the following agencies: International Association of Arson Investigators, National Association of Fire Investigators, or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Local cities or states may also have their own certification or licensing requirements.
After employees have some education and experience, they may want to earn their Bachelor’s Degree in Fire Science. Students will learn leadership, administrative, and management skills. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree can go on to be fire chiefs or fire department directors.
Schools For Fire Science