About Fire and Arson Investigators

Written by  //  2013/10/25  //  College Major  //  Comments Off on About Fire and Arson Investigators

The fire that took out five city blocks was no accident. A team of fire and arson investigators went to the scene and after much painstaking work produced conclusive evidence that arsonists were to blame. Moreover, that evidence led to the arrest of the perpetrators, putting an end to a heinous crime. Typically employed by local fire departments, fire investigators usually have a college background and may have worked several years as a fire services professional. These professionals must possess certain skills including active listening, critical thinking and curiosity.

Job Requirements

Fire and arson investigators visit fire sites to examine, collect evidence and determine the causes of a fire. Fire arsonists are called in whenever there is not conclusive evident that a fire was an accident. These professionals will photograph the damage, present evidence, and document their findings.

Fire investigators gather evidence including the charred remains of structures, accelerants and other fragments. They will analyze the evidence and look for probable cause of the fire or of an explosion. Investigators carefully package what they take in, labeling and tagging accordingly.

Arson investigators prepare documents, file reports, testify in court cases and may subpoena witnesses. They work with other law enforcement organizations to ensure that justice is reached. Investigators also swear out warrants, test sites and establish facts to support their findings.

Educational Background

Not all arson investigators have a college degree. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that about half have some college, without pinpointing how many actually received a degree. Most inspectors have at least a high school diploma and have experience working in a fire or police department according to the BLS.

Some employers require fire investigators to have a college degree, either a 2- or 4-year degree in a related field such as fire science, chemistry or engineering. Candidates with the work background and formal training may have the best chances of finding work.

Professional Salaries

Fire investigators made a median salary of $54,000 per year as of 2012 according to the BLS. Professionals in the 10th percentile made $33,900 per year on average while those in the 25th percentile made $43,100 per year on average. Those in the 75th percentile earned $70,700 while those in the 90th percentile earned at least $87,400 per year. 

The highest salaries for fire arson investigators was earned in Oregon where such professionals made $78,800 per year as of 2012. Following close behind at $78,000 were those investigators working in the state of Washington. Massachusetts at $69,800, Nevada at $69,700 and Iowa at $65,100 followed.

At the lower end of the spectrum investigators in West Virginia earned close to the 10th percentile, averaging $34,600 per year. Mississippi fire investigators earned $41,500 on average followed by New Mexico and Maine at $42,400, and Wisconsin at $43,500.

Job Outlook

The BLS anticipates that demand for fire and arson investigators will grow slowly averaging a 9 percent gain from 2010 to 2020. That rate compares to a 14 percent increase for all occupations for the decade.

Strong competition for available jobs makes finding work a challenge. However, the BLS notes that prospects that have experience with fire suppression and have completed related training or already have experience with criminal investigation should have an advantage in finding work.

Author Information
EFI provides fire investigation services that seek to stay abreast of evolving industry standards, with each fire and arson investigator undergoing intensive training. Gregory Pope is a freelance writer with an interest in fire investigations. 

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.