Skip to main content
A-Z IndexCalendarsDirectoryMaps

Background Image for Header:

Home / Academics / Careers / Fire Investigators Career

Fire Investigators Career

Career Description

Conduct investigations to determine causes of fires and explosions.

What Job Titles Fire Investigators Might Have

  • Arson Investigator
  • Fire Investigator
  • Fire Marshal
  • State Fire Marshal

What Fire Investigators Do

  • Examine fire sites and collect evidence such as glass, metal fragments, charred wood, and accelerant residue for use in determining the cause of a fire.
  • Photograph damage and evidence related to causes of fires or explosions to document investigation findings.
  • Analyze evidence and other information to determine probable cause of fire or explosion.
  • Package collected pieces of evidence in securely closed containers, such as bags, crates, or boxes, to protect them.
  • Testify in court cases involving fires, suspected arson, and false alarms.
  • Prepare and maintain reports of investigation results, and records of convicted arsonists and arson suspects.
  • Subpoena and interview witnesses, property owners, and building occupants to obtain information and sworn testimony.
  • Coordinate efforts with other organizations, such as law enforcement agencies.
  • Swear out warrants, and arrest and process suspected arsonists.
  • Test sites and materials to establish facts, such as burn patterns and flash points of materials, using test equipment.
  • Instruct children about the dangers of fire.
  • Dust evidence or portions of fire scenes for latent fingerprints.
  • Conduct internal investigation to determine negligence and violation of laws and regulations by fire department employees.

What Fire Investigators Should Be Good At

  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Flexibility of Closure - The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.

What Fire Investigators Should Be Interested In

  • Realistic - Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
  • Investigative - Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

What Fire Investigators Need to Learn

  • Public Safety and Security - Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
  • Law and Government - Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • Chemistry - Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Building and Construction - Knowledge of materials, methods, and the tools involved in the construction or repair of houses, buildings, or other structures such as highways and roads.
  • Administration and Management - Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
  • Clerical - Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
  • Mechanical - Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
  • Physics - Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Sociology and Anthropology - Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
  • Personnel and Human Resources - Knowledge of principles and procedures for personnel recruitment, selection, training, compensation and benefits, labor relations and negotiation, and personnel information systems.
  • Telecommunications - Knowledge of transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
  • Communications and Media - Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
Median Salary: $58,440

This page includes information from O*NET OnLine by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.