The main role of fire marshals is fire prevention and code enforcement to ensure the compliance of commercial, industrial, residential, and construction properties with applicable regulations. By conducting fire investigations, field inspections, public education, and other relevant tasks assigned to them, they help protect people and communities from the devastating impacts of fires.
Take note that fire marshal duties and responsibilities vary from place to place depending on your local fire safety laws. The tasks below are just some of the major ones that are included in their duties.
Fire watch guards add an extra layer of protection to your business or property by identifying potential fire hazards. We help you pass fire marshal inspections and avoid violations. Contact us and hire Scout Security’s Colorado fire watch guards now!
First of All, What is a Fire Marshal?
Fire marshals are among the most important individuals in a fire department and are the common authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) in charge of fire protection. They are responsible for enforcing fire codes, building codes, and other laws in their jurisdiction to ensure that structures and buildings are compliant with codes that apply to them. They ensure that businesses are well-prepared for fires through inspections and administering other fire prevention services.
Fire Marshal Responsibilities You Should Know
#1. Fire Code Enforcement
Fire marshals enforce local and state fire codes which are often adopted from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards, especially the Life Safety Code (NFPA 101). They work closely with other concerned parties, such as property managers or business owners, in meeting fire safety codes and regulations that cover their industry.
Fire marshals can:
- Review fire permit applications and issue permits
- Issue citations
- Shut down businesses for fire code violations
Some areas also authorize them to carry weapons, wear badges, and drive in marked vehicles.
#2. Fire & Arson Investigations
Conducting investigations after a fire to determine its origin and cause is another important fire marshal duty. They report fire incidents and identify the factors that contributed to the fire including explosions. Data gathered from these investigations will be used in improving future fire prevention activities.
In case it has been determined that the cause of the fire was arson, the fire marshal will perform a criminal investigation. During the criminal investigation, fire marshals can:
- Search for evidence
- Analyze laboratory results
- Interview suspects and witnesses
- Arrest and prosecute suspects
- Act as expert witnesses in case of trials
In addition, fire marshals can also investigate fire prevention-related complaints including noncompliance issues that require legal actions.
#3. Fire Marshal Inspections
Fire marshals can schedule and perform fire inspections on old or new buildings, structures, or occupancies covered by local fire safety codes to ensure compliance. They conduct risk assessments to identify potential fire hazards and create detailed documentation that can help the property manager or building owner in mitigating fire risks in their property.
Fire safety inspections assist in reducing hazards in your building to avoid the catastrophic consequences of fire damage, which includes accident lawsuits and legal liabilities, caused by negligence. Thus, making sure that you are well-prepared in case of fire emergencies.
Examples of Items Included in a Fire Safety Inspection
- Fire alarms
- Fire sprinklers
- Exit signs & emergency lighting
- Exits, hallways, and fire doors
- Heating equipment
- Fire extinguishers
- Water supply
- Fire evacuation plan
- Electrical cords
- Junction boxes
- Convenience outlets
- Electrical switches
- Combustible and flammable materials
Examples of Buildings or Sites Inspected by Fire Marshals
- Construction projects
- Industrial occupancies
- Lodging houses
- Parking garages
- Shopping centers
#4. Public Fire & Life Safety Education
Another way fire marshals help in preventing fires is to educate the public, such as building occupants, on fire safety including fire safety laws and regulations. They provide safety tips and advice to the general public regarding fire hazards either through local meetings, publications, open houses, safety camps, or other educational media.
#5. Assisting Property Managers & Building Owners With Their Fire Code Compliance
Lastly, fire marshals can provide reviews, pre-development, and final inspections for new business construction projects including renovations to address unsafe conditions.
They can coordinate with contractors, engineers, architects, and other involved individuals regarding fire code compliance areas. This ensures that the building is following fire code requirements with adequate and fully operational fire protection systems installed.
Other Fire Marshal Roles & Responsibilities
- Emergency responses involving hazardous materials incidents, wildfires, and others.
- Coordinating with other law enforcement and fire agencies regarding fire code enforcement.
- Recording reported fires and identifying fire trends and patterns to determine gaps in fire prevention programs.
- Training, evaluating, and supervising fire prevention personnel.
Other Important Things to Know About Fire Marshals
How does one become a fire marshal?
Fire marshals are often experienced firefighters and sworn law enforcement officers. You cannot become a fire marshal if you don’t have any prior fire protection experience.
Years of firefighter experience is often required as well as formal fire science training that could include forensics, law enforcement, and emergency medical services training. The NFPA also offers training programs and short courses to help potential applicants pass certification examinations.
In addition, fire marshals usually need continuing education to maintain their certification and keep their jobs. They can also pursue professional certifications which include NAFI’s Certified Fire & Explosion Investigator (CFEI) program.
- Top 8 Fire Safety Tips & Best Practices for Property Owners & Managers
- 7 Top Fire Risks & Consequences of Inadequate Fire Protection Systems
- 11 Benefits of Hiring 24-Hour Onsite Fire Watch Guards for Your Business
- Things Every Property Manager Should Know About Fire Sprinkler Systems In Safeguarding Their Properties
The main responsibility of a fire marshal is to conduct fire investigations to identify the causes of fires. Aside from being a fire investigator, they are arson specialists, police officers, and general criminal investigators who can apprehend offenders.
Many fire marshals are former firefighters, but their duties and responsibilities are different from those of firefighters. Fire marshals prevent fires instead of extinguishing them. Firefighters extinguish fires that have already started and fire marshals prevent them before they even happen.
Fire marshals play a major role in protecting your business from the financial and reputational damage caused by fire by ensuring your compliance with fire safety and building codes. They are your partners in ensuring the success of your business by helping you strengthen your fire prevention plan. Thus, making sure that you are adequately prepared in case of emergencies.
Scout Security’s certified fire watch guards in the Denver Metro and Colorado Springs areas can also help proactively prevent fires on your property. They perform routine inspections to address potential fire hazards before they lead to bigger problems. Hire us now!