What is a Fire Inspector?
A fire inspector is a professional trained to examine buildings, homes and other structures to ensure that they meet the applicable fire safety codes and regulations. The purpose of these detailed inspections is to ultimately prevent and/or reduce the likelihood of a fire or explosion. State or local government agencies, as well as private/public corporations, employ fire inspectors. The qualifications vary by state for the position. For example, in Maryland, an entry-level fire safety inspector may be hired for a probationary period and then complete the necessary requirements for becoming a Certified Fire Inspector I. On the other hand, the state of Florida requires fire safety inspectors to complete a minimum of 200 training hours and pass a state-administered written examination before applying for a position.
Therefore, a college degree is not a vital requirement to become a fire inspector. The minimum education is a GED or high school diploma to begin the training process and certification. If you decide to commence your career right out of high school, you can apply for a training program such as the one offered by the city of Mesa, Arizona. The Mesa Trainee is an entry-level position. A trainee participates in an on-the-job training program to learn to perform inspection duties and cause and origin investigations. First, candidates must meet the “essential functions” of the job by demonstrating effective communication, physical demands, and the mental aspect. The latter refers to the ability to understand policies, interpret laws and standards, and research building codes, to name a few.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that more than 55% of fire inspectors have some post-secondary education. Therefore, an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in Fire Science would be beneficial. (See our Top Online Associate’s programs in Fire Science). Regardless of your chosen academic path, the one consistency is that all states require certification. You will need your Certified Fire Inspector I (CFI) through the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The total length of the program is 10 months, which allows you 4 months from entering the program to take the exam. Also, you are allowed a total of 6 months to complete the practicum. You complete the practicum after you have passed the four-hour exam.
The next step in your fire inspection career is to obtain your Certified Fire Inspector II through the NFPA. Eligible applicants must have passed their CF I. The CFI-II program expands the certification track to include the NFPA 24 and NFPA 220 standards. The former standard refers to the course on the Installation of Private Fire Service Mains and Appurtenances, and the latter course deals with Types of Building Construction. Recertification is required every three years for both the I and II.
We mentioned in the opening paragraph that private/public companies hire fire inspectors. A perusal of job sites (indeed.com for example) gives prime examples of the qualifications required in this occupation. A company in commercial and residential building seeks a Certified Fire Inspector. A fire sprinkler company has an opening for a Fire Inspector; another manufacturing company needs an experienced fire protection inspector for their industrial sprinkler systems, and there are various city jobs seeking fire inspectors. There are numerous city/town jobs for Fire Safety Inspectors listed. Candidates for these positions require knowledge of NFPA, International Code Council (ICC) fire codes, International Fire Codes (IFC), and applicable laws, standards and regulations related to Public Safety.
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