What Does an Arson and Fire Investigator Do?

One can never be quite certain how the day will look as a fire investigator. One moment you could be writing reports while the next you could be digging through burned-out residences to determine the origin point.

In this article, we examine what all the career of a fire investigator entails. Keep these points in mind if this career is of interest.  

Search for Fire Hazards

One important part of a fire and arson investigator’s job is to seek out fire hazards in existing buildings. This can include how businesses or organizations deal with waste, whether they operate any heat-generating equipment, or deal with lots of dust and flammable liquids.

Restaurants, auto shops, and healthcare environments are good examples of public-facing environments that can be subject to fire hazards. Municipalities often call upon their fire inspectors to ensure these facilities are operating responsibly and in accordance with code. 

Determine the Cause of a Fire

Whether it’s a structure fire or house fire, an investigator will be tasked with determining the source of the fire. This is particularly important when lives are affected or lost as a result of the fire.

The fire investigator carries the responsibility of seeking out what happened. This is an important function for society because it keeps property owners accountable and can even bring killers to justice. 

Look For Responsible Parties

To that last point, the fire investigator doesn’t simply determine the cause of the fire. They seek out the responsible parties, especially when the fire was a willful act. 

Like a detective, they examine the scene of the fire. They observe common hazards with an eye for the suspicious. They also examine the parties close to the incident for a motive. 

In rural to mid-sized cities, a fire inspector may work in conjunction with local law enforcement. In larger cities, they could take on the full load of the investigation and have other investigators combining efforts under a single investigative body.

Understand Fire Science

It’s unfortunate but worth noting that examining dead bodies is also a part of fire investigation training. Another is looking at the origin points and path of a fire to determine how it started and spread. 

This requires extensive training with chemicals, compounds, and natural sciences. Additionally, you can view here for fire investigation training to get a more complete idea of common course curricula.

Present Findings

It’s not enough to understand fire science. You also need to be able to use it to determine the cause. But going one step further, you have to be able to relate your findings to the public in a way that’s easy to understand.

Throughout the course of your job as a fire and arson investigator, you’ll be at the center of much public interest. Media outlets, courts, and the public at large will want to know more about the incidents you’re working on.

Being able to relay this information to them in digestible form can keep everyone properly informed, quell fears, and even bring criminals to justice. It’s all in the presentation. 

Fire Investigator Careers Can Help Save Lives

The life of a fire investigator can be deeply compelling work. It comes with its share of excitement and intrigue. Above all that, however, is its ability to save lives. 

At any point in your career, you could be called upon to help with fire prevention, bring closure to grieving families, or take dangerous people off the street. For more career overviews and guidance, check out some of our additional posts!

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