Fire Science Careers

Fire Safety Specialists Career Outlook

Fire Safety graduates can find careers as fire fighters as well as fire inspectors and investigators.

Employment of fire inspectors and investigators should grow along with the population. As cities and other areas grow, there are more buildings to inspect and fires to investigate.

Fire Safety Specialists Career Paths

  • Fire fighters ventilate smoke-filled areas and attempt to salvage the contents of buildings. Their duties may change several times while their company is in action. Sometimes they remain at the site of a disaster for days at a time, rescuing trapped survivors, and assisting with medical treatment.
  • Fire inspectors check businesses, theaters and other venues to ensure that these places meet state and local fire codes. They work with government agencies, developers and planners to check and approve plans for new buildings and to inspect buildings under construction.
    • Fire investigators determine the cause of fires. They collect evidence, interview witnesses, and prepare reports on fires when the cause may be arson or criminal negligence.
    • Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists work in national forests and parks. to spot fires from watchtowers and report the fires to headquarters by telephone or radio. They also patrol to ensure that travelers and campers comply with fire regulations.
    • Smoke jumpers are elite fire fighters that parachute from airplanes to reach otherwise inaccessible areas.

    Work Environment

    All fire safety professionals work in hazardous conditions. Whether as a fire fighter, inspector or investigator, they are always on the go and on their feet.

    In 2008, 66% of all fire fighters were union members or covered by a union contract. Fire fighters receive benefits that usually include medical and liability insurance, vacation and sick leave, and some paid holidays. Almost all fire departments provide protective clothing (helmets, boots, and coats) and breathing apparatus, and many also provide dress uniforms. Fire fighters generally are covered by pension plans, which often offer retirement at half pay after 25 years of service or if the individual is disabled in the line of duty.