Ministry of the
Solicitor General

OFM and Fire Departments: Common Goals, Different Roles

Office of the Fire Marshal and Fire Departments:
Common Goals, Different Roles

The Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) and municipal fire departments are two distinct and separate entities that operate independently. Although we have common goals concerning fire safety in Ontario, our roles and responsibilities are different. The Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997 (FPPA), defines the powers and duties of the Fire Marshal on a provincial scale as well as the responsibilities of municipal councils for fire-related services at the local level.

Municipal Fire Departments

Generally, municipal councils establish and fund fire departments to deliver local fire protection and prevention services. These services include:

  • running local public fire safety education and fire prevention programs
  • providing fire suppression services such as firefighting
  • conducting inspections to enforce the Fire Code, which may result in tickets, fines and prosecution

Municipal fire departments may provide other services that are necessary depending on the needs and circumstances of the communities they serve. For example, additional services a fire department might provide include:

  • emergency medical response
  • automobile extrication
  • fire, water or ice rescue
  • hazardous materials response

Office of the Fire Marshal

Much of the work we do aims to ensure that all fire departments in Ontario provide adequate levels of fire prevention and protection in accordance with the needs and circumstances of the areas they serve and the provisions of the FPPA. We do that by collecting information about each fire department to monitor service levels and by providing them with the following support:

  • training for firefighters and other fire department personnel
  • seminars and materials on understanding legislated obligations
  • programs, resources and guidelines on fire department management, firefighter safety, risk analysis, fire prevention, public education, volunteer recruitment, master fire planning and fire protection
  • professional development seminars
  • media relations tools and public service announcements
  • information on product recalls and warnings
  • news relevant to their profession including peer activities
  • recognition of service (medal programs)

We provide fire departments and municipal councils with advice and assistance in several ways. For example:

  • Each fire department is assigned an OFM Fire Protection Adviser who can be called upon to assist with fire safety inspections, make recommendations for improving the efficiency or effectiveness of their fire protection services, and offer advice on other fire safety matters.
  • Our engineering and technical staff assist with interpretations and technical issues involving the FPPA. Upon request, they will also assist with assessing the circumstances that may warrant building closure along with technical guidance in preparing the Order to Close and related documents.

Other key OFM responsibilities include:

  • the administration of the FPPA, the Fire Code, and provincial emergency systems involving fire services
  • conducting fire investigations
  • maintaining fire-related statistics
  • applied research

Did You Know?

Volunteer fire departments account for more than 50% of all fire departments in Ontario. Ontario's volunteer firefighters outnumber the full-time firefighters by more than 8,000.

More fire department statistics