Fire Investigator

How to Become a Fire Investigator
Job Duties of a Fire Investigator
Skills and Qualities of a Fire Investigator
Fire Investigator Salaries
Influential Professionals in Fire Investigator Field
Leading Organizations for Fire Investigators
Top Cities for Fire Investigator Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Fire Investigator

Fire investigators are first fire fighters who then receive further training to become fire, or arson, investigators. A high school diploma is not necessary for this job, but helps with employment. Beginning fire fighters are trained at a fire academy before they become firefighters, and they study fire prevention, fire fighting techniques, and emergency medical procedures, among other subjects.

After a fire fighter completes a probationary period with a fire company, he or she is a fully certified fire fighter. Then a fire fighter is eligible to pursue further training either through the fire academy or police academy, in order to learn how to determine the cause of fires and whether or not a fire was set purposely (arson).

What does a Fire Investigator do?

A fire investigator is a fire fighter who determines what started a fire. They may be looking for clues in the case of arson, when a fire is set purposely, or they may be looking for clues about what caused a fire to start naturally. If a fire is not the result of arson, it may be the result of criminal negligence - someone failing to keep an area safe from fire. Or a fire may just be a natural disaster. It is up to the fire investigator to determine which of these is true.

Although many fire investigators work for fire departments, some are employed with police departments, and may work along with police investigators, while others may be employed with insurance companies. When a fire investigator is investigating the cause of a fire for an insurance company, it is often to determine if the fire was purposely set or was an accident. If the fire was purposely set, then it may be a case of insurance fraud.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Fire Investigator?

Fire investigators are first and foremost fire fighters, so they must have the skills needed for firefighters: bravery, the ability to make quick and sound decisions, and to be in good physical shape. In addition, fire investigators must have a clean criminal record and test cleanly in random drug tests. They must be alert and quick to pick up on clues, and have the ability to work and sometimes live closely with other fire fighters.

How much do Fire Investigators make?

Fire investigators tend to make slightly more than the average fire fighter. In 2006, the median yearly salary of a fire investigator was $48,050 in the United States, compared to $41,190 for all fire fighters. The middle fifty percent of fire investigators made somewhere between $36,960 and $61,160 per year. Fire investigators, like all fire fighters, tend to have good medical benefits and a good retirement package, along with the ability to retire relatively early.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

Although on the wrong side of the law, one of the people who has kept fire investigators in business is David Berkowitz, otherwise known as "Son of Sam." Berkowitz, in addition to killing many people, claimed to have set approximately 2,000 fires.

One fire investigator famous for hurting his own cause of fire prevention is John Leonard Orr. Formerly an arson investigator, Orr set fires in Southern California and is now serving a life sentence in prison.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

The International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI) is a professional group for fire investigators which certifies fire investigators with the Certified Fire Investigator certificate.

The National Association of Fire Investigators (NAFI) is a professional group for both fire and explosion investigators and offers a variety of types of certification. Some of these include Certified Vehicle Fire Investigator, Certified Fire and Explosion Investigator and Certified Fire Investigation Instructor..

What are the top cities for Fire Investigator jobs?

The top city in the United States for fire investigator jobs is Phoenix, Arizona. New York City and Houston, Texas are tied for second place, while San Antonio, Texas is the third best city in the United States for fire investigator jobs. Louisville, Kentucky comes in at fourth place for cities which are good for fire investigators looking for a job in the United States.

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