How to become a Fire Marshal – Requirements, Training Schools and Role

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What is a Fire Marshal?

Fire Marshals are the professionals, who supervise the team of firefighters, carry out arson investigations, ensure that buildings are protected from potential fire hazards, and educate people about fire safety. Though fire marshals perform fire investigations, their job is more focused on law enforcement. They may work in fire departments of federal and local departments, corporations, universities, etc.

Different states may have specific duties for fire marshals. They most often keep traveling to accomplish their work. Their job demands strong physical endurance and great dedication. They must be open to work in day and night shifts and must have critical thinking skills, emotional stability, excellent communication skills, attention to detail, and willingness to serve the society.

Fire Marshal Training

Aspirants who want to become a Fire Marshal need to take formal training in fire science from an accredited school with a specialization in forensics or emergency medical services, law enforcement. Fire Marshal training is provided at two levels – a two-year associate degree and four-year bachelor’s degree.

The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) offers training and short courses in firefighting comprising in-class and practical training. The curriculum and format may differ in different states. Some common topics covered in training are – alarm and reporting equipment, fire suppression techniques, structural building codes, fire prevention, forensic data recovery, principles of combustion, fire marshal inspection, etc.

The hands-on training is conducted under the supervision of an experienced Fire Marshal. The practical training familiarizes you with the real work scenarios and equips you with requisite skills to accomplish the daily tasks. After successful completion of the training, you get a certificate of completion.

Role of a Fire Marshal

Wondering what does a fire marshal do? Below are the major fire marshal duties and responsibilities:

  • Ensuring that fire exits and escape routes are free from obstacles.
  • Ascertaining that fire extinguishers and fire alarms are in good working conditions.
  • Ensuring that the smoking areas are cleaned and smoking receptacles are vacated regularly.
  • Monthly/weekly checking of fire doors and emergency lights.
  • Proposing ideas to prevent fire incidents.
  • Keeping an eye on violations of federal, state and local laws.
  • Making arrangements for annual fire drills.
  • Act as a liaison to local police departments, fire departments and other agencies.
  • Managing all the compliance documentation.

Fire Marshal Job Description During the Breakout of Fire:

  • Calling the emergency services / raising the alarm.
  • Assisting those who are struggling to escape or leave the area in the event of a fire.
  • Taking out people with disabilities from the fire zone.
  • Isolating hazardous machines and manufacturing processes.
  • Performing CPR and other life-saving activities.

After the Event of Fire:

  • Analyzing and investigating the root causes of the fire.
  • Preparing reports of investigations and inspections.

Fire Marshal Certification

Aspirants need to undergo training from an accredited school and qualify the fire marshal exam in order to obtain fire marshal certification. Some of the pre-requisites to get certified as a fire marshal are:

  • 18 years of age
  • GED or a high school diploma or equivalent
  • An associate or bachelor degree in fire science
  • Work experience as a firefighter

Certification provides the following benefits to fire marshals:

  • It establishes that you are eligible to assume a leadership role in community risk reduction and fire prevention.
  • It demonstrates your competence to external as well as internal stakeholders.
  • Certification opens the door to various advancement opportunities.
  • Certification obtained from a nationally recognized program establishes your qualification across different geographies and jurisdictions.
  • Since continuing education is required to keep your certification active, it ensures that your skills are updated.

Fire Marshal Salary

As of 21 October 2018, according to payscale.com, the entry-level fire marshals with less than five years of working experience were paid $52,000 per annum. On the other hand, fire marshals with 10-20 years of experience earned $56,000 per year. Fire marshals with more than 20 years of experience made an average annual salary of $65,000. The average yearly salary of these professionals was $58,883 while the hourly salary was $24.16.

According to indeed.com (as of 23 October 2018), fire marshals in the USA were paid $66,592 per annum and $18.40 per hour.

How long does a Fire Marshal certificate last?

For obtaining a Fire Marshal certificate, aspirants require to qualify a written test as well as a psychological and physical examination. The certificate remains valid for three years, after that, you need to renew it to continue your job. You are supposed to complete Continuing Education or a refresher course of requisite hours (varies in different states) for renewal of the certificate.

Top Schools List

Before enrolling in any fire marshal program, ensure that it is accredited by an authenticated body and provides required hours of education to enable to appear for the certification exam.

Below is the list of top schools/academies that offer courses in Fire Science and help aspirants to equip students with skills and knowledge to attain higher positions such as Fire Marshal, Fire Marshal Officer, etc.

  1. Virginia Fire Marshal Academy

    The VDFP (Virginia Department of Fire Programs) is nationally recognized for providing the highest level and best quality statewide risk reduction and fire services professional development efforts. It offers consultation services and technical aid to the localities of Virginia through EMS (Emergency Medical Services) and fire studies.
    Address: 1005 Technology Park Drive, Glen Allen, Virginia 23059-4500
    Course Offered: Public Fire and Life Safety Education Programs
    Key Highlight: 
    VA State Fire Marshal’s Office offers public fire and life safety education programs that’s aims to enhance statewide injury and fire prevention efforts. The program is designed for public educators, fire investigators and fire inspectors to prepare them for assuming the role of Fire Marshal.

  2. State Firefighters’ & Fire Marshals’ Association (SFFMA), Texas

    SFFMA is the largest and oldest fire association of Texas that was organized in 1876. Supported by 80 industrial fire brigades, 2200 individual members, and more than 1200 fire departments, it serves emergency and fire service responders of the state.
    Address: 
    707 West FM 1626, Austin, Texas 78748
    Course Offered: Certification
    Key Highlight: 
    SFFMA certification program follows the standards of NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) and offers you a waiver of fees/tuition toward Fire Science degree.

  3. Office of the State Fire Marshal (SFM) – State Fire Training, California

    SFM supports the mission of the CFD (California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection) and focuses on fire prevention. It offers an extensive range of programs, including Wildland Fire Prevention Engineering, Fire Engineering and Investigations, Fire and Life Safety, Fire and Resource Assessment Program, etc.
    Address: 
    1131 “S” Street, Sacramento, California 95811
    Course Offered: Certification
    Key Highlight: 
    All the programs offered by the SFM provide education and training in fire protection responsibilities and methods so that students can perform their job duties efficiently and effectively.

  4. National Association of State Fire Marshals

    The National Association of State Fire Marshals aims to protect the property, life and environment from fire and hazards related to it. The training provided by this organization strives to maximize the impact of fire safety and prevention. For potential Fire Marshals, it offers a course in Evaluating Fire Risk in Existing Buildings.
    Address: 
    PO. Box 948238, Maitland, Florida 32794
    Course Offered: Certification
    Key Highlight: 
    The curriculum of the coursework covers basic concepts of evaluation of buildings, fire safety assessment, fire risk indexing, international existing building code, etc

Online Programs for Fire Marshals

If you are working as a full-time fireman or firefighter and want to pursue advanced education to become a fire marshal, an online program is the best option for you. You can take up your studies along with your job without attending regular classes, at your convenience.

The following schools provide online programs in Fire Science to aspirants:

  1. Broward College
    Address: 111East Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301
  1. Northern Virginia Community College
    Address: 2645 College Drive, Woodbridge, Virginia 22191
  1. Cogswell Polytechnical College
    Address: 191 Baypointe Parkway, San Jose, California 95134
  1. Anna Maria College
    Address: 50 Sunset Lane, Paxton, Massachusetts 01612
  1. Lake Superior State University
    Address: 650 West Easterday Avenue, Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan 49783
  1. Saint Thomas University
    Address: 16401 North-West 37th Avenue, Miami Gardens, Florida 33054
  1. Colorado State University
    Address: Fort Collins, Colorado 80523
  1. Providence College
    Address: 1 Cunningham Square, Providence, Rhode Island 02918
  1. Salem State University
    Address: 352 Lafayette Street, Salem, Massachusetts 01970
  1. Eastern Kentucky College
    Address: 521 Lancaster Avenue, Richmond, Kentucky 40475
  1. Pikes Peak Community College
    Address: 5675 South Academy Boulevard, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80906
  1. Columbia Southern University
    Address: 21982 University Lane, Orange Beach, Alabama 36561
  1. University of Cincinnati
    Address: 2600 Clifton Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45221
  1. Keiser University
    Address: 1800 Business Park Boulevard, Daytona Beach, Florida 32114
  1. Petersburg College
    Address: P.O. Box 13489, St. Petersburg, Florida 33733-3489