OFM - 14(1)
FPPA Opinions & Applications
Subsection 14.(1) Right of Entry for Fire Investigations
"The Fire Marshal or a fire chief may, without a warrant, enter on land or premises if,
1. a fire has occurred on the land or premises; or
2. he or she has reason to believe that a substance or device that is likely to cause a fire may be situated on the land or premises."
To authorize entry without a warrant where entry is for fire investigations or when it is believed that a substance or device that is likely to cause a fire may be situated on the land or premises. This authorization does not include the right to use force or to conduct criminal investigations. If entry is denied or criminal activity is suspected, then appropriate warrants must be obtained.
Section 14 is intended primarily to allow certain specified actions to be taken in conjunction with an investigation. Because the actions can be taken immediately without notifying the owner and because the reasons for taking the actions do not have to pass as stringent a test as under other sections of the Act, the scope of action which is permitted is limited.
To apply section 14 it is not necessary to show that there is an immediate threat to life, as would be necessary to apply section 15, only that the risk of fire is likely or has occurred. Unlike section 15, which may be used by any assistant to the Fire Marshal, section 14 may only be used by the Fire Marshal or a fire chief or persons to whom they have specifically delegated authority.
How are investigators delegated authority for Section 14?
Section 10 of the FPPA allows the Fire Marshal to delegate any power or duty to anyone subject to limitations described in the delegation. The Fire Marshal has delegated the authority to the investigators "to conduct an investigation into the cause, origin and circumstances of any fire or any explosion" and has authorized them "to enter on land or premises or adjacent lands for the purposes set out in section 14 of the Act".
Do investigators have authority over fire chiefs and fire department staff at fire scenes for purposes of investigation?
Both the Fire Marshal and the Fire Chief have the authority to enter a fire scene for the purposes of carrying out an investigation. When the OFM has been requested to attend and the fire investigator assumes responsibility for the investigation, he/she also takes charge of the scene.