Ministry of the
Solicitor General

OFM - 04-29-12

Public Assistance Responses

Public Fire Safety Guidelines

Subject Coding

PFSG 04-29-12


Emergency Response


January 1998


Public Assistance Responses


Under Review


To familiarize policy makers with the requirements of providing public assistance responses.


  • Public assistance responses are calls made by fire departments that do not, in the conventional sense, involve an emergency, threat to life, or property.
  • It would be impossible to list all such types of responses, and only a brief sampling is listed below:
  • Lockouts
  • Odour investigations
  • Disabled vehicles
  • Pump out flooded basements
  • Flood skating rinks
  • Fill swimming pools
  • Electrical problems
  • Animals in trees (utility poles)


Some of the reasons that such responses are frequently handled by fire departments are as follows:

  • other agencies refuse to respond
  • fire departments are readily available
  • residents view fire departments as having the required specialized training, tools and equipment
  • firefighters want to be helpful

Response Considerations:

  • Policy makers should very carefully delineate, in writing, guidelines for such responses.
  • Risk management and the potential for liability should be at the forefront of their considerations.
  • It may, for example, be appropriate to assist someone to gain entry to their residence, provided that such person has the right of entry.
  • Is it appropriate, for example, to attempt to rescue a cat from a pole carrying electrical wires, and in so doing possibly endanger firefighters, who are probably not trained in this environment ?
  • Should fire departments be filling swimming pools and flooding skating rinks, thus probably delaying an emergency response, or would it be better for these activities to be conducted by others?
  • Should fire departments be engaged in activities that may be viewed as competition with the private sector?

Codes, Standards, and Best Practices:

Codes, Standards and Best Practices resources available to assist in establishing local policy on this assessment are listed below. All are available at . Please feel free to copy and distribute this document. We ask that the document not be altered in any way, that the Office of the Fire Marshal be credited and that the documents be used for non-commercial purposes only.

See also PFSG
02-04-01 &
02-04-23 Capabilities of Existing Fire Protection Services
04-12-13 Core Services