OFM - 04-40d-03 - Inspections Upon Request or Complaint

Inspections Upon Request or Complaint

Public Fire Safety Guidelines

Subject Coding

PFSG 04-40D-03

Section

Fire Prevention and Public Fire Safety Education

Date

September 2004

Revision Date

February 2014

Subject

Inspections Upon Request or Complaint

Page

Under Review

 1.0 Purpose:

To assist fire departments with the development and implementation of a process to ensure fire safety inspections are conducted upon complaint, request and as necessary to meet the mandatory requirements of the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997 (FPPA) and associated regulations.

 2.0 Introduction

The FPPA recognizes the importance of implementing three lines of defence (Public Education, Fire Safety Standards and Enforcement and Emergency Response) to achieve an acceptable level of fire safety within communities. Inspections upon request and complaint fall under the second line of defence.

Buildings maintained in accordance with the provisions of the Fire Code are more fire safe for the occupants and the responding fire fighters. While building owners are responsible for carrying out the provisions of the Fire Code, fire services have a public safety interest in ensuring that buildings are maintained in accordance with the provisions of the Fire Code.

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

  • A complaint is received regarding the fire safety of a property;
  • A request is made by a property owner or occupant for assistance to comply with the Fire Code where the involvement of the Chief Fire Official is required; and
  • The fire department becomes aware of Fire Code violations and/or other fire hazards at a particular property.

3.0 Ontario Regulation 365/13 – Mandatory Assessment of Complaints and Requests for Approval

Ontario Regulation 365/13 requires that fire safety assessments and inspections, if necessary, be undertaken as directed by the Fire Marshal for:

(1) every building or property for which a fire safety complaint is received; and

(2) every building or property for which a request for assistance to comply with the Fire Code is received and the involvement of the Chief Fire Official is required.

4.0 Ontario Regulation 364/13 – Mandatory Inspection – Fire Drill in Vulnerable Occupancy

Ontario Regulation 364/13 requires that fire safety inspections be undertaken, as directed by the Fire Marshal, for every care occupancy, care and treatment occupancy and retirement home for which an annual fire drill is required by Sentence 2.8.3.2.(2.1) of Division B of the Fire Code.

5.0 Integration with OFMEM Guidelines and Directives

This guideline is intended to be used as part of an overall municipal fire risk management program – therefore all other OFMEM guidelines are intended to be utilized when applicable.

Clause 9(1)(b) of the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997 (FPPA) states:

The Fire Marshal has the power to issue directives to assistants to the Fire Marshal respecting matters relating to this Act and the regulations.

And further

Clause 11 (1) states:

The following persons are assistants to the Fire Marshal and shall follow the Fire Marshal’s directives in carrying out this Act,

(a)   the fire chief of every fire department;

(b)   the clerk of every municipality that does not have a fire department;

(c)   any member of a fire prevention bureau established by a municipality; and

(d)   every person designated by the Fire Marshal as an assistant to the Fire Marshal

The following directives have been created in conjunction with this Guideline to assist Municipalities in understanding and complying with their responsibilities as set out in O. Reg. 213/07 as amended by O. Reg. 150/13, and with O. Reg. 364/13 and O. Reg. 365/13.

  • Fire Marshal Directive 2014-001, Registry of Vulnerable Occupancies
  • Fire Marshal Directive 2014-002, Vulnerable Occupancies – Fire Drill Scenarios, Fire Drill Observations, Fire Safety Inspections
  • Fire Marshal Directive 2014-003, Inspections of All Buildings

This guideline is intended to be used as part of an overall municipal fire risk management program, therefore it is expected that all other OFMEM guidelines will be utilized where applicable.

6.0 Inspection Program

The fire department’s fire prevention policy and operational guidelines should contain criteria to determine how quickly and in what manner a complaint/request is addressed as well as appropriate follow-up with enforcement, as necessary, to ensure corrective action has been taken to ensure Fire Code compliance. Technical Guideline TG-01-2012 "Fire Safety Inspections and Enforcement" will assist in the process of inspection through to enforcement. Appropriate follow-up with enforcement, as necessary, must be conducted to ensure corrective action has been taken to eliminate any identified violations and/or hazards.

The following factors should be considered when developing Fire Department Operational Guidelines and Policies:

  • The type of inspections to be conducted and the buildings to be inspected.
  • 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 classification of buildings being inspected and the skills and knowledge required to inspect them. The more complicated the building, the more skill and knowledge required.
  • Technical assistance required to assist with conducting the inspection, e.g. Electrical Safety Authority, Professional Engineer.
  • The seriousness of the complaint received.
  • Records management policies (Inspection history of the building including non-compliance or Inspection Orders issued).

6.1 Request Inspections

In order to meet the obligations set out in Section 2(1)(a) of the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997 (FPPA), fire departments are expected to respond to requests to assist owners to comply with fire safety legislation in accordance with Directive 2014-003. Certain provisions of the Fire Code require the approval of the Chief Fire Official (e.g. fire safety planning), where the property owner cannot comply with the Fire Code without the assistance of the Chief Fire Official. This type of activity assists in improving the fire safety of properties in the community. It also allows the property owner to propose alternate means for compliance for certain Fire Code requirements.

Request inspections referred to in this guideline do not include inspections for licensing, property resale, insurance letters or other similar purposes. These inspections may be conducted at the discretion of council, however, should not take priority over inspections that are considered as mandatory to meet the requirements of the FPPA.

6.2 Complaint Inspections

A complaint may be received from a number of sources including: the public, fire suppression crews, outside agencies or government ministries. Complaints are often initiated as a result of a dispute. Therefore it is important that the inspector must demonstrate impartiality and remain focused on the fire safety concern that has been raised. Conducting complaint inspections will assist communities and their fire departments to mitigate liability concerns.

The review of the complaint determines if the complaint is justified. Any fire code violations or other fire and/or life safety hazards identified during the inspection must be reported to the property owner or other person having responsibility for the property.

Note: This type of inspection may not address every hazard on the property.

6.3 Inspections Where The Fire Department Becomes Aware of a Fire Code Violation or Other Fire Safety Hazard at a Property

When a fire department becomes aware of a Fire Code violation or other fire and/or life safety hazard at a property, it is necessary to conduct an inspection to confirm the violation or hazard, and steps are taken to ensure the owner corrects the violation or eliminates the hazard.

When an owner is unwilling to comply with the Fire Code or correct a fire and/or life safety hazard voluntarily, the fire official should exercise their enforcement authority provided by the FPPA. Refer to Technical Guideline TG-01-2012 “Fire Safety Inspections and Enforcement”. Failure to do so could expose the municipality to potential liability for failing to exercise due diligence.

6.4 Inspections identified in the Community’s Simplified Risk Assessment

Utilization of the Simplified Risk Assessment Tool may identify a number of high risk properties in a community. Code enforcement inspections of high risk properties are strongly encouraged. Ensuring the fire safety of these properties is a vital component of the overall fire protection of a community. High risk properties include:

  • Properties where a fire would have a significant impact on the community, (employment, social, environmental impact);
  • Assembly occupancies;
  • Multi-unit residential occupancies;
  • Industrial occupancies;
  • Older buildings in downtown core;
  • Care and treatment occupancies;
  • Care occupancies; and
  • Retirement homes.

Once a community’s fire risks have been identified, inspection programs, which are most likely to address these risks, should be implemented. Inspection priority should be based on the degree of risk. The frequency of the inspections will depend on the resources provided by the municipality or as regulated.

The skills necessary to conduct some of these inspections may not be available in the community and it may be necessary to arrange for assistance from other sources such as a neighbouring fire department or OFMEM staff.

The Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management offers an “Inspection Assist Program” to communities and fire departments that may require advice and/or assistance with a particular inspection. This assistance can be arranged through the local Fire Protection Adviser or OFMEM regional office.

7.0 Fire Safety Inspections and Enforcement – OFMEM TG 01-2012

OFMEM Technical Guideline TG-01-2012 "Fire Safety Inspections and Enforcement" assists municipalities and their fire services in meeting their fire safety inspection and enforcement responsibilities in the most effective and efficient way possible, as provided by the FPPA. To ensure efficient and effective fire safety inspections are carried out, the technical guideline provides compliance options. The option(s) selected should ensure that the Fire Code contraventions are dealt with in the most expeditious manner. Any inspection conducted must include appropriate follow-up and enforcement, as necessary. These inspections should be conducted within a short timeframe, relevant to the seriousness of the complaint.

8.0 Records, Documentation and Forms

Samples of records management, documentation and forms may be found in Technical Guideline TG-01-2012 “Fire Safety Inspection and Enforcement”. This document will assist you in the process of inspection through to enforcement.

The benefits of a good record keeping system include assisting with:

  • Needs assessment;
  • Resource planning;
  • Program evaluation;
  • Effective prosecutions;
  • Inspection planning; and
  • Mitigating liability concerns.

There are three attachments provided which may be used to assist in record management:

  • Request Tracking Form (html, PDF version available on request at AskOFM)
  • Complaint Tracking Form (html, PDF version available on request at AskOFM)
  • Inspection Tracking Form (html PDF version available on request at AskOFM)

9.0 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 the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services OFMEM Home page http://www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca/.

04-38-15 Role of Assistant to the Fire Marshal

04-39-12 Fire Prevention Effectiveness Model

04-40-12 & 03 Selection of Appropriate Fire Prevention Programs

04-40A-12 & 03 Simplified Risk Assessment

04-40B-12 & 03 Smoke Alarm Program

04-40C-12 & 03 Distribution of Public Fire Safety Education Materials

04-40D-12 & 03 Inspections Upon Request of Complaint (Fire Code)

04-41-12 Community Fire Safety Officer/Team

04-41A-13 Community Fire Safety Program

04-45-12 & 03 Fire Prevention Policy

04-47-12 Development of Fire Prevention By-laws

04-48-12 Liaison With Building Department

04-49-12 Liaison With Other Government Agencies and Individuals

04-50-12 Fire Safety Inspection Practices

04-52-12 & 03 Fire Investigation Practices

04-60-12 Records Management

04-80-01 & 23 Fees for Services

OFMEM TG-01-2012 - Fire Safety Inspections and Enforcement

10.0 Legal Disclaimer – Use of this Guideline

This guideline is the property of the OFMEM in right of Ontario and is for non-commercial purposes only. This document should not be altered in any way. This document is protected by Copyright.