The Ontario Fire Service is committed to providing the citizens of this province with an environment that is safe from fire. To help the fire service achieve this goal, the Office of the Fire Marshal developed the Comprehensive Fire Safety Effectiveness Model. One vital component of this model is the Fire Prevention Effectiveness Model, which is designed to assist the fire service in addressing the issues that affect fire safety while meeting the needs of the community through the best use of available resources.
A fire department can significantly reduce fire deaths and injuries by carrying out fire prevention activities. First, by ensuring that properties are fire safe and second, by educating the property's occupants on how to prevent and survive fire incidents. A large majority of fire deaths and injuries occur before the fire department arrives at the fire scene. Fire prevention efforts are necessary to prevent these tragic losses.
The public expects fire departments to play a lead role in protecting them from fire. Fire departments generally have significant resources available to protect residents in the community. Using these resources effectively to provide quality fire prevention programs will help to fulfill community expectations.
The Fire Prevention Effectiveness Model is a risk management tool to help fire departments provide effective fire prevention programs that will address the fire safety needs of a community. The model can be used to provide guidance in analyzing the fire risks and in selecting, developing, implementing and evaluating fire prevention programs to improve fire safety.
The Fire Prevention Effectiveness Model does not create any additional duties for the fire service. It is intended to clarify existing responsibilities and provide assistance in effective planning and informed decision making.
The Model is divided into three sections: Needs Analysis; Program Selection, Development and Implementation; and Program Evaluation. For the purposes of this document, "Fire Prevention" includes public safety education, fire incident evaluation and code enforcement inspections.
Section I: Needs Analysis
This section provides a method to analyze fire loss information to identify which local fire safety issues are most critical. Once there is a clear understanding of the local fire safety concerns, the most appropriate fire prevention programs can be selected to address them.
Section II: Program Selection, Development and Implementation
This section provides assistance in selecting programs in the three areas of activity that comprise an effective fire prevention strategy: inspections, public safety education and fire incident evaluations. It also provides information to help fire departments develop and implement the programs selected.
Section III: Program Evaluation
This section provides assistance to help determine and measure the effectiveness of fire prevention programs implemented by a fire department. It may identify an area that has been overlooked in the present program or it may indicate other ways of achieving similar results, perhaps through more effective use of resources.
Note that a review of Programs that a department may already have implemented can also be done using this Guideline.
For a fire prevention program to enhance fire safety in the community, it is essential that effective fire prevention activities are carried out by the fire service. The objective of fire prevention is to minimize fire and other public safety hazards for the citizens of Ontario by reducing the incidence and impact of fire. This, in turn, will reduce related injuries, fatalities, property damage, and environmental damage.
Some fire prevention activities that can be implemented by a fire department include:
- Conducting inspections to enhance code enforcement. This can be an effective means to achieve compliance in properties.
- Implementing public education programs to change attitudes or certain types of behaviour by relaying a specific message to a broad group of people or a target audience.
- Using fire incident evaluations to measure the success of individual program(s).
To reduce fire losses in a community successfully, fire departments must plan and allocate their resources in a manner that will provide the greatest benefits. This includes evaluating the needs of the community by assessing the fire risks, resources and fire prevention programs.
Changes to services should be considered only after a thorough review of the issues (such as establishing a by-law) and with due consideration and consultation. A fire department may wish to discuss any proposed changes with municipal council or the municipality's legal adviser.
It is important to recognize that fire prevention activities will vary from one department to another based on the individual needs and resources available. For example, a fire department in one community may have personnel assigned permanently to carry out a broad range of fire prevention activities that includes both public education and inspections. In another department, personnel from different areas within the fire department may be temporarily assigned to participate in a specific fire prevention program or initiative.
The Fire Prevention Effectiveness Model is intended to assist fire departments in evaluating and implementing the most effective program(s) in their communities. By using this model, fire departments should be able to evaluate their current programs objectively to determine whether these programs should be modified or new ones developed.