Fire Investigator  What They Do

Just the Facts


Conducts investigations to determine causes of fires and explosions.

This career is part of the Law, Public Safety, Corrections and Security cluster Emergency and Fire Management Services pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Examines fire sites and collects evidence such as glass, metal fragments, charred wood, and accelerant residue for use in determining the cause of a fire.
  • Photographs damage and evidence related to causes of fires or explosions to document investigation findings.
  • Analyzes evidence and other information to determine probable cause of fire or explosion.
  • Testifies in court cases involving fires, suspected arson, and false alarms.
  • Packages collected pieces of evidence in securely closed containers, such as bags, crates, or boxes, to protect them.
  • Prepares and maintains reports of investigation results, and records of convicted arsonists and arson suspects.
  • Subpoenas and interviews witnesses, property owners, and building occupants to obtain information and sworn testimony.
  • Coordinates efforts with other organizations, such as law enforcement agencies.
  • Swears out warrants, and arrests and processes suspected arsonists.
  • Instructs children about the dangers of fire.

Insider Info

Dig into the details and check out what people in this job have to say about their work.



Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 20 lbs., sometimes up to 50 lbs. You might do a lot of lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling.
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Requires getting into awkward positions
  • Lighting is either extremely bright or inadequate
  • Conditions are very hot (above 90 F) or very cold (under 32 F)
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Exposed to conditions such as high voltage electricity, combustibles, explosives, and chemicals more than once a month
  • Exposed to hazardous equipment such as saws, machinery, or vehicular traffic more than once a month
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation requires being outside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves use of special protective items such as a breathing apparatus, safety harness, full protection suit, or radiation protection
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Identifying color and seeing differences in color, including shades and brightness
  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person
  • Lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying objects

Work Hours and Travel

  • Irregular hours
  • Overtime work
  • Weekend work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Arson Investigator -- Examines intentionally set fires in order to determine why they were set; for example some are set purposely in order to recover money from an insurance claim or cover up another crime.
  • Chief Arson Division --
  • Fire and Explosion Investigator --
  • Fire Captain --
  • Fire Chief -- Directs activities of municipal fire department.
  • Fire Lieutenant --
  • Fire Marshal -- Supervises and coordinates activities of firefighting personnel of industrial establishment and inspects equipment and premises to ensure adherence to fire regulations.
  • Investigator --
  • State Fire Marshal --