One question that a lot of people ask is can a firefighter arrest someone, or not? So, whether you are an aspiring firefighter, or just someone interested in knowing if a firefighter can also play the role of law enforcement, read on.
First and foremost, it is worth noting that police and firefighters are both highly important professionals who serve the public, yet their roles are very different.
There is no doubt that firefighters are heroes. Firefighters are courageous professionals who will always run towards the danger, doing all they can to help save lives.
But, being a firefighter means more than just battling smoke and blazes.
As a firefighter, you will have to save people out of all sorts of danger. Whether someone is hurt, stuck inside a building or vehicle, firemen are always there and willing to help save a life.
What’s more, firefighters play the role of emergency medical technicians in some instances. We also can’t forget to mention that firefighters prevent future fires from occurring by installing fire alarms, creating fire regulations and teaching the community about fire safety.
So, can a firefighter arrest someone?
No. In most cases, a firefighter cannot legally arrest someone. There is one exception to this and that is Fire Marshals (and in some cases arson investigators) are allowed to arrest individuals involved in arson crimes.
Let us first define the duties of a firefighter. Firefighters are mainly responsible for putting out fires and rescue operations.
There are different ranks in the fire service including firefighter engineers, captains, assistant chiefs, lieutenants, battalion chiefs and
Though the primary goal of every firefighter is to save life and property, every rank has a slightly different responsibility.
Fire Marshalls, also sometimes referred to as arson investigators, are firefighters who are tasked with investigating crimes of arson, where as a standard firefighter is tasked more with operations in saving life and property.
What’s more, firefighters are not responsible for handling criminal incidences or drug-related issues. Also, in most areas, they are not authorized to carry firearms.
So, what is a fire marshal or arson investigator?
There’s a good chance you may have heard of Fire Marshalls after a major event of a large fire. Most people usually associate the title of Fire Marshall with someone who arrests an individual for arson. However, the fire marshal’s office does a lot more than just that.
Fire Marshalls and arson investigators straddle the line between police work and firefighting, discharging their duties primarily in fire service, enforcing the fire code and perhaps investigating the causes of fires.
They work for regional, state as well as local fire and law enforcement agencies. Of course, the role may vary from state to state.
These fire professionals work for in a variety of industries including insurance companies, financial departments, state police, fire investigation offices, fire education educations, building and planning departments and more.
As a Fire Marshal or arson investigator, you may carry a weapon, put a uniform, wear a badge, and make arrests related to arson.
However, it is also important to mention that in some areas, Fire Marshalls may have roles that are entirely separate from law enforcement, such as construction and fire code related inspections.
In most states, though, the Fire Marshall is charged with the responsibility of enforcing laws concerning flammable materials.
The Fire Marshall’s office is a component of the fire service typically designated to minimize property damage and loss of life caused by fire through prevention and education.
As a Fire Marshall, you’ll have to interact with local, federal and state agencies, businesses, educational centers as well as representatives of both private and public sector groups.
Fire Marshalls carry out thousands of business inspections, fire and alarm sprinkler system inspections and equally investigate incidences of fire every year using knowledge and skills in forensics, criminal law investigation procedures and chemistry.
They also review industrial and commercial construction plans for fire and safety compliance, fire sprinkler and fire alarm system installation and testing.
Fire Marshalls may also act as emergency responders and this implies that they are trained as regular firefighters and EMTs.
They are usually veteran firefighters, well-versed and highly knowledgeable in every aspect of the fire department, fire behavior, and building codes.
They also offer all hazards safety education to varied audiences ranging from students to adults.
How to Become a Fire Marshall
Being a Fire Marshall comes with lots of responsibility. It is a highly complex job that requires you to supervise a team of firemen and investigators, conduct arson investigations, educate your community about fire safety practices and make sure that buildings are adequately protected against fire hazards.
More often than not, Fire Marshalls are needed to possess extensive job experience in firefighting. It goes without saying that the most straightforward way to gain this type of experience is to work as a firefighter.
A short spell in a higher position (usually as an officer) in a fire department should allow you to gain this much-needed experience.
According to the U.S Bureau Statistics of Labor, prospective Fire Marshalls may be needed to attend formal fire academy (click the link to use our guide to find one in your area) that offers training in law enforcement, forensics or emergency medical services.
After completing your training, you may also need to attend the short training courses offered by the National Fire Protection Association to enhance your chances.
These certifications, along with relevant firefighting experience, can help you stand out from other Fire Marshall candidates.
Though a profession as a Fire Marshall or arson investigator has lots of advantages, it does entail a fair amount of back-end legal work and reporting.
You will have to know and understand how to collect and mark evidence, prepare testimony and conduct public briefings.
Also, once you have secured the job, you’ll need to further your education to keep up with the emerging issues and trends within the profession.
For example, you may have to test, qualify and become a certified fire and explosion investigator.
So, if you have ever wondered can a firefighter arrest someone, the answer is a definitive no; unless of course you work as a Fire Marshall.
Can a firefighter pull someone over?
No, firefighters cannot legally pull someone over. The only individuals allowed to do so would be law enforcement professionals. For further clarification or questions consult legal counsel.