Ministry of the
Solicitor General

OFM - 04-40-03

Selection of Appropriate Fire Prevention Programs

Public Fire Safety Guidelines

Subject Coding

PFSG 04-40-03


Fire Prevention and Public Fire Safety Education


March 2001


Selection of Appropriate Fire Prevention Programs


Under Review


To assist in developing or selecting programs to meet the four minimum fire prevention and public education requirements of the Fire Protection and Prevention Act.


Municipalities must develop a fire prevention and fire safety education program that addresses their needs and circumstances, as determined by the application of sound risk management principles.

Minimum Required Services:

Section 2. (1) of the Fire Protection and Prevention Act states:
(1) Every municipality shall,

  1. establish a program in the municipality which must include public education with respect to fire safety and certain components of fire prevention; and
  2. provide such other fire protection services as it determines may be necessary in accordance with its needs and circumstances.

Therefore, as a minimum acceptable model municipalities must provide the services listed below. The simplified risk assessment should identify the extent to which additional services may be required to meet the local needs and circumstances of specific municipalities.
Municipalities may develop a different model for fire prevention and public education services provided they are able to demonstrate that their model meets the mandated requirements of the community's local needs.

  1. Simplified risk assessment
  2. A smoke alarm program
  3. Fire safety education material distributed to residents/occupants
  4. Inspections upon complaint or when requested to assist with code compliance

Simplified Risk Assessment:

A simplified risk assessment must be done for the community to determine the needs and circumstances of the municipality and to establish the level of fire prevention and public fire safety education required. Any significant risks identified through the analysis should be addressed. For example; if the risk assessment indicates a significant life or fire loss in multi-unit residential buildings, a program that will adequately improve their fire safety - such as routine inspections - would be appropriate to address the specific need of the community.
The scope and extent of the remaining three required programs can be determined by the results of the simplified risk assessment.

Smoke Alarm Program:

The objective of a smoke alarm program is the provision and maintenance of working smoke alarms and home escape planning activities for all residential occupancies in the municipality. The activities associated with the program may include any combination of the following:

  • community surveys
  • distribution of pamphlets or other education material
  • instruction to residents regarding smoke alarms
  • providing smoke alarms at reduced or no cost
  • installation of smoke alarms
  • inspecting premises to determine compliance with the smoke alarm provisions of the Fire Code.

Fire Safety Material:

Fire safety education material may be distributed to residents and/or occupants consistent with the community's needs and circumstances by any combination of the following activities:

  • distribution of pamphlets or other education material
  • public service announcements utilizing the available media
  • instruction to residents/occupants on fire safety matters
  • presentations to resident groups
  • attendance at public events

Fire safety education material addresses such issues as preventing fire occurrence, the value of smoke alarms, planning escape from fire, and being prepared to deal with a fire incident. The OFM Regional Office can provide assistance with fire safety education material for the public. Fire safety education material may also be found on the OFM website.

Public Fire Safety Education:

For public fire safety education, the following should be established:

  • the audience to be targeted
  • the message that needs to be delivered to improve the fire safety situation must be determined.
  • an inventory of the available or required resources and programming.
  • the most appropriate method of delivering the message.
  • the duration or frequency of the message delivery.


Inspections of properties must be done, or arranged for, by the municipality when:

  • a complaint is received regarding the fire safety of a property
  • a request is made to assist a property owner or occupant to comply with the Fire Code and the involvement of the Chief Fire Official is required by the Ontario Fire Code

Any inspection conducted must include notification of the property owner or responsible person and appropriate follow-up with enforcement, if necessary.

Inspection Program Considerations:

For inspections, the following factors should be considered:

  • The type of inspections to be conducted and the buildings to be inspected. For example: routine inspections of all multi-unit residential buildings, new construction inspections of all buildings, smoke alarm checks of single family residential buildings.
  • The methods of inspection appropriate for the circumstance. This will have implications for the amount of time required to inspect, as more comprehensive inspections require more time.
  • The category of buildings being inspected and the skills and knowledge required to inspect them. The more complicated the building, the more skill and knowledge required.
  • The frequency that the properties will be subject to inspection

Program Selection:

IIn addition to the minimum services outlined above, programs need to be selected, developed and implemented that address any risks identified through needs analysis. Programs being considered need to be effective for the type of concerns identified. For example; a routine inspection program would be effective to address concerns for the fire safety of a group of buildings that demonstrate poor performance during fire incidents. Similarly, a public fire safety education program such as Older and Wiser would be effective where there is a lack of knowledge of fire safety behaviour by the elderly and this lack causes them to suffer significant fire losses.
Each area of program activity has a number of factors which need to be considered.

Service Delivery Options:

The Fire Prevention Effectiveness Model may also assist with informed decision making about fire prevention and public education programs. Once the needs analysis component of the model has been completed, fire department managers can decide what programs are appropriate to address their identified local risks.
There are a number of options for delivery of selected fire prevention programs. They can be provided by fire department staff - personnel dedicated to fire prevention and/or fire suppression staff. Other persons in the community may be used. Agreements with other communities may be made for provision of services. The OFM provides assistance in delivery of fire prevention programs through the Assist Program.

Policy Requirements and Other Relevant Issues:

Any selected/mandated programs must have sufficient resources, human and others, to be effectively delivered.
Persons assigned responsibility for delivering programs must be adequately trained.
Policy decisions must be made with appropriate authority and records made of the level of service decreed.
Appropriate program guidelines must be established for each program to be delivered.
Any fees for services should be discussed and decided upon at the policy level.
Legal counsel should be consulted regarding any changes to the delivery of services to the community.

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
01-02-01 Comprehensive Fire Safety Effectiveness Model
04-12-13 Core Services
04-40A-03 Simplified Risk Assessments
04-40B-12 Smoke Alarm Programs
04-40C-12 Public Education Programs
04-40D-12 Inspection Programs