FAQ General

General

What is the difference between the "local" fire department and the Office of the Fire Marshal?

The Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) and municipal fire departments are two distinct and separate entities that operate independently. Although we have common goals concerning fire safety in Ontario, our roles and responsibilities are different. Please visit the OFM and Fire Departments: Common Goals, Different Roles page for more information.

Who are assistants to the Fire Marshal, and what is their role?

Assistants to the Fire Marshal can be:

  • municipal fire chiefs
  • clerks of municipalities that do not have fire departments
  • members of fire prevention bureaus that have been established by municipalities
  • persons designated by the Fire Marshal

An example of persons designated by the Fire Marshal is staff of the Office of the Fire Marshal who may conduct inspections.

Assistants to the Fire Marshal report to the Fire Marshal all fires and any other matters as specified by the Fire Marshal.

Assistants to the Fire Marshal have the authority to conduct inspections for the purpose of assessing fire safety. They also have the power to enter lands and premises without a warrant at all reasonable times. Upon request of the owner or occupant of the land or premises, assistants to the Fire Marshal are obligated to identify themselves and explain the purpose of the entry.

Who are Chief Fire Officials, and what is their role?

Chief Fire Officials can be:

  • municipal fire chiefs who are also assistants to the Fire Marshal
  • members of the fire department appointed by the municipal fire chief to carry out some or all of the duties of a Chief Fire Official
  • persons who are assistants to the Fire Marshal that are appointed as Chief Fire Officials by the Fire Marshal subject to the purposes, limitations and conditions set out in the appointment

As assistants to the Fire Marshal, Chief Fire Officials have the authority to enforce the Ontario Fire Code and to approve equivalencies and provisions contained in the Ontario Fire Code.

What is a Life Safety Study?

A Life Safety Study is a detailed fire safety analysis prepared by an architect or a professional engineer and is a proposal to the Chief Fire Official. It consists of a detailed assessment of the life safety performance requirements that clearly identifies items not meeting the requirements of the Ontario Fire Code, a detailed description of how an acceptable level of life safety can be achieved and a detailed time schedule to implement the proposed upgrades. The Chief Fire Official will review the Life Safety Study and can either approve or reject the proposal submitted to him/her.

The smoke from my neighbour's chimney is blowing into my bedroom window. Isn't there something in the Fire Code that will stop this?

This is not a Fire Code issue. However, it may be an issue with the Ministry of the Environment.

What is a door closer, and why do I need one on my apartment door?

Door closing hardware is attached to a door and allows the door to automatically close and latch after it has been opened. Other terms for this hardware include self-closing hardware, self-closer, self-closing device, closer, and door closer. If there is a fire in an apartment, the door closer will automatically shut the door after the occupant leaves. This will limit the spread of smoke and fire into the corridor and other parts of the building.

The Ontario Fire Code requires self-closing devices on residential suite doors in apartment buildings that are more than six storeys in building height, in apartment buildings that are not greater than six storeys in building height (where the suite doors open onto corridors that have only one direction of exit travel or where the corridor is contiguous with the exit stair), in some lodging, rooming and boarding house configurations, and in some two-unit residential occupancies.

Both the Ontario Building Code and the Fire Code identify many other locations in buildings where self-closing devices are needed, such as on exit stair doors, laundry room doors, and garbage room doors. Generally, doors in corridors require this hardware, with some exceptions.