Fire Marshal

Prevent and investigate fires.

What does a Fire Marshal do?

While a Firefighter is primarily concerned with putting out fires, a Fire Marshal is concerned with preventing fires from occurring in the first place.

One of your duties as a Fire Marshal is to do inspections. You walk through buildings and make sure they meet fire codes. You also inspect sprinkler systems, alarm systems, and fire extinguishers to see if they’re operational.

You may have to inspect the same buildings every year, along with newly erected structures. If the buildings aren’t up to snuff, you may have to write unpleasant citations.

When a fire breaks out, a Fire Marshal heads up the investigation. But before you envision quick, trendy lab tests like the ones you see on television, you should know that it’s more like crawling through blackened debris, looking for clues, taking swabs on the scene, and testing them with chemicals you have in your pocket. This may be more low-tech with no background music, but it’s no less important in preventing arsonists from striking again.

Additionally, you interview building owners and witnesses. You write reports about what you found, and assist in prosecuting the arsonist, if needed. This may involve cleaning up and going to court to testify on occasion.

Some employers will require you to be on the scene of any fire that occurs within your jurisdiction, so you can help direct the crew and begin your investigation right away. Other employers will allow you to keep regular office hours, and only respond to the scene of a fire if it seems suspicious or requires your expertise.