How does someone become a Fire Marshal?

Joe Morelli is Ventura’s Fire Marshal.

As with everything, there are many different paths to becoming a Fire Marshal, however, the qualifications and experience needed are similar among differing agencies and cities. Fire Marshals typically start their career as either a Fire Inspector or Firefighter and promote through the ranks in either Fire Operations or Fire Prevention. It is the Fire Marshal’s responsibility, as the Fire Prevention Division Manager, to oversee the community risk reduction programs of the division including the development fire plan review and inspection, hazardous materials enforcement, occupancy inspections, defensible space inspections, fire review for special events, and fire operations support programs. Essentially, any program that addresses fire prevention, the Fire Marshal has a hand in overseeing.

In the Ventura, the mission of the Fire Prevention Division is to protect life, property, and the environment through effective engineering, enforcement, and education.

Given the multiple programs and functions that the Fire Prevention Division is responsible for, a typical path to the Fire Marshal position includes an individual gaining some years of experience in performing inspections in support of the various division programs, followed by plan review experience, and then project management and supervisory level experience.

Mandatory qualifications can vary among fire agencies within California, however, there are a few typical qualifying factors for Fire Marshal candidates. The typical qualification requirements include a Bachelor’s degree in Fire Administration or a related field, and other certifications required by the California State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Preferred qualifications can also include Fire Investigator certification and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certifications which allow flexibility in how the Fire Marshal functions within a department.
Ventura’s Fire Marshal, Joe Morelli, holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Organizational Management and Associate of Science Degree in Fire Prevention, is a California State Certified Fire Marshal, Fire Plans Examiner, Fire Prevention Specialist, and Firefighter I and II. He holds International Code Council Certifications as a Fire Inspector I and II and Plans Examiner. He also serves on committees and boards within the fire service including the Executive Board of the California Fire Chief’s Association Fire Prevention South Section, and the National Fire Protection Organization Fire Prevention Organization and Deployment Committee as the California Fire Chief’s Association Representative.

Learn more about the Ventura Fire Prevention Division at

Print Friendly, PDF & Email