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How to be a fire marshal

If you want to know how to be a fire marshal, you probably are already aware that it’s a great career choice. The duties of the job include enforcing fire safety regulations, investigating fires, interrogating arson suspects, inspecting buildings for fire code compliance, investigating flammable materials and being a liaison with local and state lawmakers in support of fire codes and regulations.

Usually a fire marshal will be a member of the local fire department, but in some places, they’re under the auspices of an entirely different department, such as the city building department. In learning about the details of this career choice, you’ll discover that they often are official law enforcement officers and can be authorized to carry firearms. They are also able to make arrests in the event of arson or fire code violations.

In order to have a career in this field, the first step is to work as a firefighter with a local fire department. Most fire marshals started out as firefighters and worked their way up to captain, then deputy fire marshal before gaining the position. In addition to having firefighting experience, you must have a degree in a fire-related field. Some of these educational requirements include a bachelor’s degree in fire science or a master’s degree in fire science or a related field.

You’ll also need to stay up to date on the latest building materials, fire retardant materials, firefighting equipment, firefighting techniques and fire safety measures to ensure that you have the required information to perform your job effectively. To be a fire marshal you must also stay apprised of all fire codes and regulations that pertain to your area of operations.

You will need to obtain the required certifications, including your state’s fire marshal certification and a certification in building plan review and building inspections.

You must also be able to write reports and evaluations as part of the responsibilities of the job. There’s lots of paperwork involved with this position and you’ll be expected to provide detailed documentation such as evidence reports, interrogation statements and recommendations in cases of arson.

You’ll also be working with district attorneys, forensic experts, police officials and judicial officials as part of your duties as they relate to prosecuting cases of arson and other fire related offenses.

Another aspect of the duties of a fire marshal is testifying in court in arson cases. Part of your testimony will be providing detailed explanations of the evidence that’s presented, so you will need to be able to be analytical, concise and articulate.

As a fire marshal, you will be consulting with insurance companies in the event of large scale fire losses. You will be expected to provide expert opinions and evidence regarding the sources of fires in such cases.

Another one of the responsibilities of a fire marshal is to develop, present and support public education programs on fire prevention and fire safety.

Firefighting 101 articles are intended to educate a non-fire service audience about the fire service profession. These articles are written by FireRescue1 staff members and FireRescue1 contributors, and cover a wide range of topics from how to join a fire academy to how to pass the exams required to be a firefighter. If there’s a topic you’d like to see covered, or are interested in writing for Firefighting 101, email