Ministry of the
Solicitor General

TG-02-2019 Community Risk Assessment Guideline

OFMEM-TG-02-2019

Community Risk Assessment Guideline

Office of the Fire Marshal and

Emergency Management

  Combined OFM-EMO logos

Abstract

The Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFMEM) has developed this guideline to assist municipalities and fire departments in a territory without municipal organization, to conduct community risk assessments and use its community risk assessment to inform decisions about the provision of fire protection services, in accordance with Ontario Regulation 378/18 (O.Reg. 378/18), and the Fire Protection and Prevention Act 1997 (FPPA).

For further information or assistance contact the Public Safety Education Manager at 1‑800-565-1842.

This guideline provides:

  • An outline of recommended best practices to conduct a community risk assessment in order to make informed decisions about the provision of fire protection services;
  • Descriptions of the nine mandatory profiles outlined in O. Reg. 378/18 that must be addressed in the community risk assessment, including examples of where this data and information can be obtained;
  • Worksheets that can be used or modified to document and analyse data/information related to the nine mandatory profiles that must be addressed in the community risk assessment in accordance with O. Reg. 378/18, and,
  • Worksheets that can be used or modified to assist in assigning risk levels and identifying preferred treatment options.

1.0 SCOPE

This document has been prepared by the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management to assist municipalities and fire departments in territories without municipal organization to conduct community risk assessments to meet the requirements of Ontario Regulation 378/18.

2.0 INTRODUCTION

Community risk assessments allow fire departments to make informed decisions about the types and levels of fire protection services they will provide based on identified risks.

Risk is defined as a measure of the probability and consequence of an adverse effect to health, property, organization, environment, or community as a result of an event, activity or operation.

By identifying all fire and life safety risks in their community and prioritizing them based on the probability of them occurring and the impact they would have if they occurred, fire departments are able to determine which risks to address and how best to address them. Risk assessments allow fire departments to ensure their levels of service, programs and activities for public fire safety education, Fire Code inspections and enforcement, and emergency response directly address the identified risks and are most effective at preventing and mitigating them.

The Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997 (FPPA) mandates that every municipality in Ontario shall establish a program which must include public education with respect to fire safety and certain components of fire prevention, and provide such other fire protection services as it determines may be necessary in accordance with its needs and circumstances. In the fire service, these elements are commonly referred to as the Three Lines of Defence:

  1. Public Fire Safety Education
  2. Fire Safety Standards and Enforcement
  3. Emergency Response

In order to meet these obligations, municipalities need to make informed decisions with respect to the types and levels of fire protection services they provide. This requires an understanding of the risks facing the community that can be identified through a community risk assessment. Once identified, the risks can be prioritized to assist in making informed decisions about risk treatment options and the provision of fire protection services.

Ontario Regulation 378/18: Community Risk Assessments (O. Reg. 378/18) requires that every municipality and every fire department in a territory without municipal organization complete a community risk assessment and use it to inform decisions on the provision of fire protection services. The Community Risk Assessment is an in-depth and comprehensive assessment to inform fire protection service levels and requires the identification, analysis, evaluation and prioritizing of risk, based on nine mandatory profiles.

The regulation outlines a standard set of information profiles that must be considered when conducting a community risk assessment. The information and data gathered to address each of the profiles will assist in determining and prioritizing the risks to public safety in the community, and determining the fire protection services to be provided by municipalities and fire departments in territories without municipal organization to address those risks.

The mandatory profiles identified in Schedule 1 of O. Reg. 378/18 were determined from examining various current industry models on risk assessment. Many of these models provide comprehensive coverage pertaining to identification of data and information relating to community risks. However, it should be noted that these risk assessment models may or may not include all of the nine mandatory profiles as identified in Schedule 1 of O. Reg. 378/18. Municipalities and fire departments in territories without municipal organization may use other tools, models or guidelines to conduct their community risk assessments provided that their final community risk assessment meets all the requirements outlined in O. Reg. 378/18., including consideration of each of the nine mandatory profiles identified in Schedule 1 of the regulation (see Appendix E).

The Guideline provides suggestions as to how to record and analyze the data/information using the sample worksheets that are provided in the Guideline. Municipalities and fire departments in territories without municipal organization have flexibility to include any additional information (e.g. maps, charts, diagrams) they deem appropriate to best assist them in analyzing their data and information in order to make informed decisions on fire protection services.

The Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) requires every municipality to conduct an all-hazards risk assessment, which informs continuous improvement of emergency management programs and improves public safety. A completed Hazard Identification Risk Assessment (HIRA) may provide some of the information/data required to fulfil the needs of a Community Risk Assessment under O. Reg. 378/18, although there will be specific fire related information that is not contained in the HIRA that will be gathered as part of this process. The HIRA and the Community Risk Assessment are separate processes but should be viewed as complementary to one another.

Note: For the purposes of this guideline, the terms “fire department” and “fire departments” will be considered to include every municipality and every fire department without municipal organization.

3.0 CONDUCTING A COMMUNITY RISK ASSESSMENT

3.1 Identifying Risks – Mandatory Profiles

The first step in conducting a community risk assessment is to identify the various fire and life safety risks in the community. This can be done by gathering data about the make-up of the community and the activities occurring there.

O. Reg. 378/18 requires fire departments to consider the following profiles when completing their community risk assessment to ensure the risk assessment best considers all potential risks in the community:

  1. Geographic Profile
  2. Building Stock Profile
  3. Critical Infrastructure Profile
  4. Demographic Profile
  5. Hazard Profile
  6. Public Safety Response Profile
  7. Community Services Profile
  8. Economic Profile
  9. Past Loss and Event History Profile.

Fire departments need to gather and review data and information about each of these profiles to identify the fire and life safety risks that could impact the community.

Worksheets 1 to 9 in Appendix A of this guideline can be used to record and organize the data and information for each profile. The worksheets can be filled in electronically. Fire and emergency risks and issues/concerns can be noted in the appropriate columns of each worksheet as they are identified. These worksheets can be modified or adapted to suit local needs based on available data or information.

A description of each profile, including potential sources of data and information for each, is provided below.

3.1.1 Geographic Profile

Geographic profile refers to the physical features of the community, including the nature and placement of features such as highways, waterways, railways, canyons, bridges, landforms, and wildland-urban interfaces.

Physical features of the community may present inherent risks that need to be taken into account when determining the type and level of fire protection services that should be provided by the fire department. Physical features may also impact emergency response access and response times.

Identifying any geographic features that might have implications with respect to risk or response allows fire departments to consider these issues when determining appropriate types and levels of fire protection services.

For example, a lake may have implications with respect to water and/or ice rescue services and the equipment and training that would be required to provide those services. The lake may also impact emergency response access and response times to certain areas within the community. Additionally, a lake may be a seasonal tourist attraction and the associated activities may present unique risks that could influence decisions on specific public fire safety education and Fire Code inspection and enforcement programs and activities.

Where to find/collect this information

Information related to the Geographic profile may be obtained from:

  • Local knowledge of the area and by using maps of the municipality’s natural (i.e. lakes, rivers, etc.) and human-made (i.e. highways, bridges, railways, etc.) features, and
  • Local municipal departments (i.e. highways/roads, conservation authorities, etc.) who should have information about the location and uses of geographic and physical features of the community.

3.1.2 Building Stock Profile

Building Stock profile refers to the types, numbers, uses, and ages of the various buildings within the community.

Fire departments should consider the potential fire risks associated with different types/classifications or uses of buildings given their prevalence in the community and the presence of fire safety systems and equipment at the time of construction.

Older buildings typically do not contain the same fire safety and fire protection systems required in newer buildings. This may impact the fire risk in older buildings. Also, how buildings are used can influence the fire risks in each building. For example, industrial chemical storage facilities are likely to present higher fire risks than buildings containing commercial retail activities. The age and type of residential buildings (e.g. high-rise vs. single family dwelling vs. town/row houses) can influence the probability and consequence of fire in those buildings.

Past inspection practices and frequencies also can be a factor when considering risk associated with any particular building occupancy classification categories. For instance, a robust inspection program in higher risk occupancies can have a positive influence on mitigating some of the inherent risks associated with that particular type of building. Conversely, a lack of historical inspection data in relation to a particular occupancy classification category also should be considered when determining risk.

These building characteristics can have significant impact on the public fire safety education, Fire Code inspection and enforcement and emergency response activities the fire department may determine are necessary to address the risks.

Where to find/collect this information

O. Reg. 378/18 does not specify which source of this information has to be referenced to complete the risk assessment. Fire departments have the flexibility to choose which source they feel will provide the optimum level of detail they are most comfortable with as an accurate reflection of the building stock in their community. Consideration should be given to consistency in terms of data sources when conducting new risk assessments and annual reviews.

Information related to the Building Stock profile may be obtained from:

  • Categorizing buildings in accordance with the Standard Incident Report (SIR) property classification system which corresponds with the Ontario Building Code (OBC) occupancy classification system. As the Ontario Fire Code (OFC) requires that buildings be classified in accordance with the OBC, this approach makes it easy to consider issues like the type of construction and fire safety equipment/features that should be present in the different classifications of buildings, based on their size, age, design, and use;
  • Municipal building departments that have information regarding the age, number, types, uses, etc. of buildings in the municipality;
  • Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC – www.mpac.ca) data that assesses and classifies all properties within Ontario, and
  • Fire department pre-plans that identify uses and potential risks within specific buildings or areas of the community.

3.1.3 Critical Infrastructure Profile

Critical Infrastructure profile refers to the facilities or services that contribute to the interconnected networks, services, and systems that meet vital human needs, sustain the economy, and protect public safety and security (i.e. electricity distribution, water distribution, telecommunications, hospitals, and airports).

Consideration of the presence, availability, capacity, and stability of infrastructure elements can help identify potential impacts that may result if any of these systems are compromised. Understanding how infrastructure impacts things like emergency services dispatch, communications, fire department emergency operations, overall health care or transportation can assist in determining preferred treatment options to address specific risks.

Where to find/collect this information

Information related to the Critical Infrastructure profile may be obtained from:

  • Local municipal departments (i.e. public works, water and sanitation departments, etc.) and other local utility companies that have information about the location, uses, capacity, etc. of the critical infrastructure in the community, and
  • A completed Hazard Identification Risk Assessment.

3.1.4 Demographic Profile

Demographic profile refers to the composition of the community’s population considering such factors as population size and dispersion, age, gender, cultural background, level of education, socio-economic make-up, and transient population.

Awareness of the characteristics of the population in the community assists the fire department to determine if specific segments of the population are at high-risk of fire. This awareness allows fire departments to best identify high-risk behaviours that need to be changed, as well as specific techniques to communicate with high-risk groups.

Fire protection services, including public fire safety education and Fire Code inspections and enforcement programs, should be tailored to high-risk groups so that fire safety programs are delivered in the most relevant and meaningful ways and can have the greatest impact. For example, delivering fire safety messages using communications techniques popular with specific high-risk segments of the population increases the likelihood the messages are received by those segments and therefore are most effective at reducing the fire risk.

Where to find/collect this information

Information related to the Demographic profile may be obtained from:

  • Local municipal departments that keep information regarding the demographic make-up of their populations, including trends and projections regarding how the demographics may change in the coming years. The amount of this type of information that is available from municipal departments may vary between municipalities, and
  • Statistics Canada (www.statscan.gc.ca) census profiles of every community in Ontario, including demographic information.

3.1.5 Hazard Profile

Hazard profile refers to the hazards in the community, including natural hazards, hazards caused by humans, and technological hazards. This may include but not be limited to hazardous materials spills, floods, freezing rain/ice storms, forest fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, transportation emergencies (i.e. air, rail or road), snow storms, windstorms, extreme temperature, cyber-attacks, human health emergencies, and energy supply (i.e. pipelines, storage and terminal facilities, electricity, natural gas and oil facilities, etc.).

Fire departments should consider all potential hazards that pose a significant risk to or may have a significant impact on the community, and to which fire departments may be expected to respond.

Where to find/collect this information

Information related to the Hazard profile may be obtained from:

  • Local municipal or government departments (i.e. public safety, police, emergency management, etc.) with information about the natural and technological hazards within the community and the risk they pose;
  • Local historical incident data related to emergency incidents, and
  • A completed Hazard Identification Risk Assessment.

3.1.6 Public Safety Response Profile

Public Safety Response profile refers to the agencies and organizations in the community (i.e. police, EMS, rescue) that may respond to certain types of incidents.

The fire department should consider other public safety response agencies (i.e. police, EMS, rescue) that might be tasked with or able to assist in the response to emergencies or in mitigating the impact of emergencies. This will assist the fire department to prioritize community risks and to determine the level of fire protection services it provides. For example, the presence of a private fire and rescue service at a local industrial facility may influence decisions about the type and the level of fire protection services a municipal fire department may provide to that facility.

Where to find/collect this information

Information related to the Public Safety Response profile may be obtained from:

  • Local municipal departments (i.e. police, EMS, emergency management, etc.), and
  • Private companies or industrial facilities who may have information about the response capabilities of other entities within the community.

3.1.7 Community Services Profile

Community Services profile refers to community agencies, organizations or associations that can provide services that support the fire department in the delivery of public fire safety education, Fire Code inspections and enforcement, or emergency response.

Community service agencies may be able to provide services in-kind, financial support, provisions of venues for training, increased access to high-risk groups in the community, or temporary shelter for displaced residents following an incident.

Where to find/collect this information

Information related to the Community Services profile may be obtained from:

  • General local knowledge;
  • Local municipal departments (i.e. social services);
  • Community service agencies (i.e. agencies providing English as a second language services, resettlement agencies, agencies working with older adults, the Canadian Red Cross, etc.) who have information about the various services provided by community organizations and their clients within the community.

3.1.8 Economic Profile

Economic profile refers to the economic sectors affecting the community that are critical to its financial sustainability.

When prioritizing risk in the community, the fire department should consider the impact of fire and other emergencies on the industrial or commercial sectors that provide significant economic production and jobs to the local economy. This will assist in determining the type and level of fire protection services provided in these sectors in the community.

For example, if a town has a large industrial or commercial occupancy that has a significant impact on the local economy, the fire department may consider increasing its public fire safety education and Fire Code inspection and enforcement activities to reduce the probability of a significant incident requiring a large scale emergency response.

Where to find/collect this information

Information related to the Economic profile may be obtained from:

  • Local municipal departments (i.e. economic development, employment, and social services) that have information about the economic sectors that are critical to the community’s economic well-being. This will help determine the economic impact (e.g. loss of business or jobs) if a fire occurs in a specific occupancy or area of the community.

3.1.9 Past Loss and Event History Profile

Past Loss and Event History profile refers to the community’s past emergency response experience, including analyzing the following:

a) The number and types of emergency responses, injuries, deaths, and dollar losses.

b) A comparison of the community’s fire loss statistics with provincial fire loss statistics.

Fire departments should evaluate previous response data to identify trends regarding the circumstances, behaviours, locations, and occupancy types of previous fires. This assists in determining the leading causes or behaviours resulting in fires, and high-risk locations and occupancies. Public fire safety education and Fire Code inspection and enforcement programs can then be designed to specifically target high-risk behaviours among various population groups and to focus prevention activities in high-risk neighbourhoods or locations. This targeted approach allows public fire safety education and Fire Code inspection and enforcement programs to directly address fire risks, thereby increasing their fire prevention effectiveness.

Where to find/collect this information

Information related to the Past Loss and Event History profile may be obtained from:

  • Standard Incident Reports completed by the fire department. These can be obtained through fire department records or by emailing the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFMEM) at OFMstatistics@ontario.ca.;
  • Trends and statistics about fire causes and fire and life safety issues across the province located on the OFMEM’s website, and
  • Information, available on request from the OFMEM, relating to fire losses in neighbouring communities.

For those communities where trends are not easily identifiable due to a lack of fire incidents, it may be helpful to look at trends across the province or in neighbouring municipalities that are similar in size and make-up.

It is suggested that a minimum of three (3) years’ worth of data is analyzed in order to identify any potential patterns or trends and to avoid random events from unduly skewing the data.

4.0 PRIORITIZING RISKS

The mandatory profiles allow fire departments to identify the features and characteristics of their community that may impact fire and life safety risks. Once risks have been identified they should be prioritized. This section discusses how risks can be prioritized based on the probability of the risk happening and the consequence if the risk occurs. Table 1: Probability Levels and Table 2: Consequence Levels can be used to help determine the probability and consequence of each risk identified on the worksheets. The probability and consequence of each risk can then be noted in the appropriate columns on the relevant worksheets in Appendix A.

As noted in the introduction, risk is defined as a measure of the probability and consequence of an adverse effect to health, property, organization, environment, or community as a result of an event, activity or operation.

4.1 Probability

The probability or likelihood of a fire or emergency within a community is often estimated based on the frequency of previous experiences. A review of past events involves considering relevant historical fire loss data, learning from the experiences of other communities, and consulting members of the community with extensive historical knowledge. Professional judgment based on experience should also be exercised in combination with historical information to estimate probability levels. The probability of an event can be categorized into five levels of likelihood:

Table 1: Probability Levels

Table 1: Probability Levels

Description

Specifics

Rare

  • may occur in exceptional circumstances
  • no incidents in the past 15 years

Unlikely

  • could occur at some time, especially if circumstances change
  • 5 to 15 years since the last incident

Possible

  • might occur under current circumstances
  • 1 incident in the past 5 years

Likely

  • will probably occur at some time under current circumstances
  • multiple or recurring incidents in the past 5 years

Almost Certain

  • expected to occur in most circumstances unless circumstances change
  • multiple or recurring incidents in the past year

Assign a probability level to each identified risk or hazard on the relevant worksheets in Appendix A.

4.2 Consequence

The consequence of a fire or emergency is the potential losses or negative outcomes associated with the event. The application of professional judgment and reviews of past occurrences are important methods used for determining consequence levels. Estimating the consequence level of an incident or event should involve an evaluation of four components:

  1. Life Safety: Injuries or loss of life due to occupant and firefighter exposure to life threatening fire or other situations.
  2. Property Loss: Monetary losses relating to private and public buildings, property content, irreplaceable assets, significant historic/symbolic landmarks and critical infrastructure.
  3. Economic Impact: Monetary losses associated with property income, business closures, a downturn in tourism and/or tax assessment value, and employment layoffs.
  4. Environmental Impact: Harm to human and non-human (i.e. wildlife, fish and vegetation) species of life and a general decline in quality of life within the community due to air/water/soil contamination as a result of the incident and response activities.

The consequence of an event can be categorized into five levels based on severity:

Table 2: Consequence Levels

Description

Specifics

Insignificant

  • no life safety issue
  • limited valued or no property loss
  • no impact to local economy, and/or
  • no effect on general living conditions

Minor

  • potential risk to life safety of occupants
  • minor property loss
  • minimal disruption to business activity, and/or
  • minimal impact on general living conditions

Moderate

  • threat to life safety of occupants
  • moderate property loss
  • poses threat to small local businesses, and/or
  • could pose a threat to the quality of the environment

Major

  • potential for a large loss of life
  • would result in significant property damage
  • significant threat to large businesses, local economy and tourism, and/or
  • impact to the environment would result in a short term, partial evacuation of local residents and businesses

Catastrophic

  • significant loss of life
  • multiple property damage to a significant portion of the municipality
  • long-term disruption of businesses, local employment, and tourism, and/or
  • environmental damage that would result in long-term evacuation of local residents and businesses

Assign a consequence level to each identified risk or hazard on the relevant worksheets in Appendix A.

5.0 ASSIGNING RISK LEVEL

Assigning a risk level assists fire departments in prioritizing risks, which helps to determine how to address or treat each risk. The Risk Level Matrix in this section can assist fire departments to determine risk levels based on the probability and consequence levels of each identified risk. Risks can be assigned as low risk, moderate risk or high risk. The risk levels for each risk can be noted in the Assigned Risk Level column on the relevant worksheets in Appendix A.

The matrix below can be used to determine the assigned risk level.[1] Plot the assigned probability and consequence levels on the relevant worksheets in Appendix A to assign a risk level for each identified risk.

This graphic is used to indicate a relative risk level based on a presumed level of the probability of an incident or event occurring and a presumed level of the consequence should the incident or event occur.

6.0 RISK TREATMENT OPTIONS

Once risk levels have been assigned, fire departments can determine how best to treat each risk and the resources required to do so.

Options for treating risks include the following:

  1. Avoid the Risk
  2. Mitigate the Risk
  3. Accept the Risk
  4. Transfer the Risk

6.1 Avoid the Risk

Avoiding the risk means implementing programs and initiatives to prevent a fire or emergency from happening.

For example, public fire safety education initiatives aim to change people’s behaviours so that fires may be prevented and people react appropriately when fires do occur. Fire Code inspections and enforcement help to ensure that buildings are in compliance with the Ontario Fire Code.

6.2 Mitigate the Risk

Mitigating the risk means implementing programs and initiatives to reduce the probability and/or consequence of a fire or emergency.

For example, a routine Fire Code inspection and enforcement program to ensure Fire Code compliance helps to reduce the probability and consequence of a fire.

A pre-planning program involving fire suppression crews allows the fire department to gain knowledge about specific buildings in the community and their contents, fuel load, fire protection systems, etc. This information can be provided to the fire inspection staff who can ensure the building is compliant with the Fire Code. Also, it can assist suppression crews to plan fire suppression operations should a fire occur in a building. These activities can reduce the probability and consequence of a fire.

6.3 Accept the Risk

Accepting the risk means that after identifying and prioritizing a risk, the fire department determines that no specific programs or initiatives will be implemented to address this risk. In this treatment option, the fire department accepts that the potential risk might happen and will respond if it occurs.

For example, typically fire departments do not implement programs to prevent motor vehicle collisions. Yet it is generally accepted that collisions will happen and that the fire department will respond when they do. Similarly, environmental hazards (e.g. ice storms) and medical calls cannot be prevented by a fire department program or initiative, yet fire departments typically respond when these emergencies occur.

When accepting risks, fire departments should consider their capacity (i.e. equipment, personnel, training, etc.) to respond.

6.4 Transfer the Risk

Transferring the risk means the fire department transfers the impact and/or management of the risk to another organization or body. Contracting public fire safety education, Fire Code inspection and enforcement, or emergency response services to a neighbouring municipality or another organization are examples of transferring the management of risks to another body.

For example, a community may enter into a fire protection agreement with a neighbouring community with respect to any or all of the three lines of defence.

7.0 SETTING THE TYPE AND LEVEL OF FIRE PROTECTION SERVICES

When setting the type and level of fire protection services, all Three Lines of Defence should be considered in terms of the impact each will have on the probability or consequence of identified risks. Once fire departments have determined the preferred treatment option for each risk, they can plan and implement activities that address those risks. Things to consider include the fire department’s current resources, staffing levels, training, equipment and authority versus those that may be required to implement the preferred treatment options.

After considering these issues, the preferred treatment option (e.g. avoid the risk, mitigate the risk, accept the risk, or transfer the risk) can be noted in the Preferred Treatment Option column of worksheet 10 in Appendix A.

Fire departments should also ensure that operational policies and standard operating guidelines address the levels of service and activities required to address each risk. This includes setting goals and objectives, and determining resources, training, equipment, activities, and programs required across each of the Three Lines of Defence.

The process of making informed decisions about the provision of fire protection services should include careful consideration of the following:

  • Implementation of public fire safety education, Fire Code inspections and enforcement, and emergency response activities that are appropriate to address the causes, behaviours or issues associated with identified risks.
  • Capabilities and capacity of the fire department (e.g. financial and staffing resources, training, equipment, authority, etc.) that may be required to implement preferred treatment options.
  • Strategic partners with common interests, available resources, or skill sets that could assist in addressing risks using the applicable risk assessment profiles.
  • Establishing and Regulating By-laws, operational policies and standard operating guidelines that reflect the fire protection services to be provided to address the identified risks.
  • Establishment of goals and objectives, strategies, timelines, and evaluation for the proposed fire protection services to be provided.
  • Communication with municipal council and the public to outline the types and levels of fire protection services that will be provided.

8.0 REVIEW

O. Reg. 378/18 requires fire departments to complete a new community risk assessment at least every five years. The regulation also requires that fire departments review their community risk assessment at least once every 12 months to ensure it continues to accurately reflect the community and its fire and emergency risks. The purpose of this review is to identify any changes in the mandatory profiles that may result in a change in risk level, or a change in the type or level of fire protection services the fire department determines necessary to address the risks. This review is intended to ensure that the fire protection services provided continue to be evidence-based and linked to the identified risks.

This review process may or may not involve a close examination of all of the nine community profiles, depending on whether any changes related to the profiles have occurred since the completion of the risk assessment or the last review. For example, changing demographic profiles (e.g. an aging population or an increase in the number of immigrants) or changing geographic profiles (e.g. the planned construction of a new highway) may impact the risks identified in the community risk assessment and the fire department activities and resources required to address them. A review may or may not result in any changes to the assigned risk levels or fire protection services. However, a review can provide evidence-based justification for decisions that may impact the delivery of fire protection services.

Fire departments should maintain documentation that the reviews required by O. Reg. 378/18 have been conducted. This documentation should include:

  • Any changes to any of the mandatory profiles;
  • Any changes to assigned risk levels or fire protection services that occur as a result of the review, and
  • Any other information the fire department deems appropriate to the review or any resultant changes to fire protection services.

If no significant changes occur in the community within a 12 month period, and no changes are required to the profiles or fire protection services, then a review could simply consist of documentation to that effect.

Appendix A: Profile Worksheets

Worksheet 1: Geographic Profile

List the physical features of the community that impact the risk of and response to fire and other emergencies, including large bodies of water, highways/road networks, waterways, railways, canyons, bridges, landforms, and wildland-urban interfaces.

Geographic Profile Risks

List the geographic features in your community and how they may influence the delivery of fire protection services.

Geographic Profile Risks

Geographic Feature

Potential Impact on the Delivery of Fire Protection Services

Example:
Large body of water

  • Impacts training, equipment for response activities
  • Impacts response times/travel time to calls
  • Recreational/tourist activities impact public fire safety education and Fire Code inspections and enforcement activities

Example:
Railway tracks

  • Impacts station location
  • Impacts response protocols

Note: The information on this worksheet should be considered in conjunction with the information on all other worksheets, and not in isolation. Worksheet 10 allows fire departments to consider all of the information on all worksheets together in order to make decisions about the provision of fire protection services in their municipality/community.

Worksheet 2: Building Stock Profile

The building stock profile should consider the characteristics of the buildings in the community. This can include the use of the buildings, building density, building age and construction, and building height and area. This information will assist fire departments to identify the issues/concerns that will impact the delivery of fire protection services.

Building Stock Profile Risks

List the building stock/occupancy types in your community and the fire and other emergency issues/concerns for each.
Assign probability, consequence and risk levels to each.

Building Stock Profile Risks

Occupancy Classification

Issues/Concerns (i.e. age of buildings; use of buildings; building density, height and area; historic and culturally significant buildings; etc.)

Probability

(refer to Table 1
for suggested probability levels)

Consequence

(refer to Table 2
for suggested consequence levels)

Assigned Risk Level

(refer to the Risk Level Matrix for suggested risk levels)

Group A

Assembly

Group B

Detention Occupancies

Care and Treatment / Care

Group C

Single family

Multi-unit residential

Hotel / Motel

Mobile Homes & Trailers

Other

Groups D & E

Business & Personal Service / Mercantile

Group F

Industrial

Other

Occupancies not classified in OBC such as farm buildings.

Note: The information on this worksheet should be considered in conjunction with the information on all other worksheets, and not in isolation. Worksheet 10 allows fire departments to consider all of the information on all worksheets together in order to make decisions about the provision of fire protection services in their municipality/community.

Worksheet 3: Critical Infrastructure Profile

Consider the community’s critical infrastructure including electricity distribution, water distribution, telecommunications, hospitals, and airports and how they relate to fire and other emergency risks in the community.

Critical Infrastructure Profile Risks

List the critical infrastructure in your community and the fire and other emergency issues/concerns relating to each.

Critical Infrastructure Profile Risks

Identified Critical Infrastructure

Issues/Concerns

Example:
Electricity distribution

  • Hydro lines go down

Example:
Hospital

  • Large number of immobile people at risk if a fire occurs

Example:
Telecommunications

  • Telephone lines/cell towers go down

Note: The information on this worksheet should be considered in conjunction with the information on all other worksheets, and not in isolation. Worksheet 10 allows fire departments to consider all of the information on all worksheets together in order to make decisions about the provision of fire protection services in their municipality/community.

Worksheet 4a: Demographic Profile

Consider the characteristics of your community’s demographic profile to identify potential fire safety issues/concerns. This will help the fire department prioritize its overall risk and decisions about the provision of fire protection services. For example, traditionally older adults, young children, recent immigrants, and people with disabilities are at the highest risk of fire. Knowing if your community has a high number of people in any of these demographic groups helps your fire department prioritize your public fire safety education and Fire Code inspection and enforcement programs.

Demographic profile characteristics to consider include: age, culture, education, socio‑economics, transient populations or other unique population characteristics in your community.

The following population distribution chart can assist with identifying high-risk or vulnerable demographic groups in your community.

Demographic Profile

Ages of population

# of People

% of Total Population

0-4

5-9

10-14

15-19

20-24

25-29

30-34

35-39

40-44

45-49

50-54

55-59

60-64

65-69

70-74

75-79

80-84

85 and over

Total Population

Consider the following questions to help identify the demographic groups within your community and the associated fire safety issues/concerns:

  1. Are there specific age groups that make up a large portion of your community? If yes, who are they?
  2. Are there groups whose language and/or cultural practices impact fire safety in your community? If yes, who are they?
  3. Are there transient populations in your community (e.g. post-secondary school students, migrant workers, seasonal tourists, etc.)? If yes, who are they?
  4. Are there specific socio-economic groups and/or circumstances that impact fire safety in your community? If yes, who/what are they?
  5. Are there demographic groups within your community that have cognitive or physical disabilities served by community service agencies? If yes, who are they?
  6. List any other unique demographic groups or characteristics in your community that impact fire safety.

Worksheet 4b: Demographic Profile

Use the answers to the questions above to list the identified demographic groups in the first column of the worksheet below.

Demographic Profile Risks

List the demographic groups of concern in your community and the fire and other emergency issues/concerns relating to each group.

Demographic Profile Risks

Identified Demographic Group

Issues/Concerns

Example:
Large immigrant population

Language barriers

Cultural traditions that present fire safety concerns

Example:
Large seniors population

Large number of seniors residential buildings

High number of seniors receiving assistance/care from personal support worker organizations

Example:
Large population of summer tourists

How does the fire department reach this audience with fire safety messages if they don’t live in the community

Note: The information on this worksheet should be considered in conjunction with the information on all other worksheets, and not in isolation. Worksheet 10 allows fire departments to consider all of the information on all worksheets together in order to make decisions about the provision of fire protection services in their municipality/community.

Worksheet 5: Hazard Profile

List potential hazards in the community including but not limited to hazardous materials spills, floods, freezing rain/ice storms, forest fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, transportation emergencies (i.e. air, rail or road), snow storms, windstorms, extreme temperature, cyber-attacks, human health emergencies, and energy supply (i.e. pipelines, storage and terminal facilities, electricity, natural gas and oil facilities).

Hazard Profile Risks

List the hazards in your community and the fire or other emergency risk of each.
Assign probability, consequence and risk levels to each risk identified.

Hazard Profile Risks

Identified Hazard

Probability

(refer to Table 1 for suggested probability levels)

Consequence

(refer to Table 2 for suggested consequence levels)

Assigned Risk Level

(refer to the Risk Level Matrix for suggested risk levels)

Example:
Ice storm

(power interruptions/
disruptions in communications/ delayed access)

Possible

Minor

Moderate

Example:
Flood

(obstructed access/increased calls for rescue/assistance)

Possible

Minor

Moderate

Note: The information on this worksheet should be considered in conjunction with the information on all other worksheets, and not in isolation. Worksheet 10 allows fire departments to consider all of the information on all worksheets together in order to make decisions about the provision of fire protection services in their municipality/community.

Worksheet 6: Public Safety Response Profile

Consider other public safety response agencies (i.e. police, EMS, rescue) that might be tasked with or able to assist in the response to emergencies or in mitigating the impact of emergencies. Also consider the types of incidents each is able to respond to and any issues or concerns that may impact fire department response.

Public Safety Response Profile Risks

List the other public safety response agencies in your community and the incidents they respond to.

Public Safety Response Profile Risks

Identified Public Safety Response Agency

Types of Incidents They Respond To

What is Their Role at the Incident

Issues/Concerns

Example:
Ontario Provincial Police

  • MVC’s
  • Fire Scenes
  • Scene control, traffic control

None

Example:
EMS

  • Medical Calls
  • Take control upon arrival

What level of service will the fire department provide before and after EMS’ arrival

Example:
Industrial fire brigade

  • Internal incidents on private property
  • suppression

Fire department may not need to provide full response/may provide more of a support response

Note: The information on this worksheet should be considered in conjunction with the information on all other worksheets, and not in isolation. Worksheet 10 allows fire departments to consider all of the information on all worksheets together in order to make decisions about the provision of fire protection services in their municipality/community.

Worksheet 7: Community Services Profile

Consider community service agencies, organizations or associations that provide services that support the fire department in the delivery of public fire safety education, Fire Code inspection and enforcement and emergency response. This may include services in-kind, financial support, provisions of venues for training, increased access to high-risk groups in the community, and temporary shelter for displaced residents following an incident.

Community Services Profile Risks

List the community service agencies and the types of services they can provide.

Community Services Profile Risks

Community Service Agencies

Types of Assistance they Can Provide

Issues/Concerns

Example:
Canadian Red Cross

Temporary shelter, clothing, food following an incident

None

Example:
Lions Club

Services in-kind

(e.g. funding / physical labour / facilities)

None

Example:
Meals on Wheels / Home Support Workers

Access to homebound populations

None

Note: The information on this worksheet should be considered in conjunction with the information on all other worksheets, and not in isolation. Worksheet 10 allows fire departments to consider all of the information on all worksheets together in order to make decisions about the provision of fire protection services in their municipality/community.

Worksheet 8: Economic Profile

Consider the industrial or commercial sectors that provide significant economic production and jobs to the local economy and the impact to the community’s economy if a fire or other emergency occurred in occupancies housing those sectors.

Economic Profile Risks

List the industrial or commercial occupancies that provide significant economic production and jobs in the community. List the fire or other emergency risks in each occupancy. Assign probability, consequence, and risk levels for each risk identified.

Economic Profile Risks

Identified Occupancy

Key Risk

Probability

(refer to Table 1 for suggested probability levels)

Consequence

(refer to Table 2 for suggested consequence levels)

Assigned Risk Level

(refer to the Risk Level Matrix for suggested risk levels)

Example:
Vulnerable Occupancies

Fire

Possible

Minor

Moderate

Example:
Paper Mill

Fire

Possible

Major

Moderate

Note: The information on this worksheet should be considered in conjunction with the information on all other worksheets, and not in isolation. Worksheet 10 allows fire departments to consider all of the information on all worksheets together in order to make decisions about the provision of fire protection services in their municipality/community.

Worksheet 9a: Past Loss and Event History Profile

Consider previous response data to identify trends regarding the deaths, injuries, dollar loss, and causes of fire in various occupancy types. This assists in determining the leading causes of fires and high-risk locations and occupancies.

In the absence of fire loss data, local knowledge may be the most reliable predictor of fire risk in your community.

Also, provincial statistics can assist in determining the types of occupancies and locations where fire losses, injuries and deaths most commonly occur.

Municipal Fire Losses, Deaths, Injuries, and Causes

Past Loss and Event History Profile

Occupancy Classification

Year: __________

Year: __________

# of Fires

$ Loss

# of Injuries

# of Deaths

Causes

# of Fires

$ Loss

# of Injuries

# of Deaths

Causes

Group A

Assembly

Group B

Detention

Care & Treatment / Care

Group C

Residential

Mobile Homes & Trailers

Groups D & E

Business & Personal Service / Mercantile

Group F

Industrial

Other

Totals

Worksheet 9b: Past Loss and Event History Profile

Past Loss and Event History Profile Risks

List the causes for each occupancy type identified on the previous worksheet.
Assign probability, consequence and risk levels to each cause identified.

Past Loss and Event History Profile

Occupancy Type/Location

Causes

Probability

(refer to Table 1 for suggested probability levels)

Consequence

(refer to Table 2 for suggested consequence levels)

Assigned Risk Level

(refer to the Risk Level Matrix for suggested risk levels)

Example:
Group F - Industrial

Hazardous materials spill

Possible

Major

Moderate

Example:
Group C – residential high density (high-rise)

Fire

Almost Certain

Moderate

High

Example:
Group C – residential low density (single family dwellings)

Fire

Almost Certain

Minor

Moderate

Note: The information on Worksheet 9b should be considered in conjunction with the information on all other worksheets, and not in isolation. Worksheet 10 allows fire departments to consider all of the information on all worksheets together in order to make decisions about the provision of fire protection services in their municipality/community.

Worksheet 10: Identifying Treatment Options for the Top Risks in the Community

The preferred treatment options identified for each risk in the last column of this worksheet can be used to assist the fire department to set its type and level of fire protection services. Refer to the Setting the Type and Level of Fire Protection Services section of this guideline.

Identifying Treatment Options for the Top Risks in the Community

Using Worksheets 1 to 9 identify the top risks or issues/concerns for each of the nine profiles, and identify the preferred treatment option for each.

Identifying Treatment Options for the Top Risks in the Community

Mandatory Profiles

Top Risk or Issues/Concerns

Preferred Treatment Option

(refer to the Risk Treatment Options section for suggested treatment options and considerations)

Geographic Profile

Examples:

Body of water impacts training, equipment for response

Accept Risk - Implement water/ice rescue training protocols, SOGs, and activities

Body of water impacts response time

Accept Risk - Implement appropriate response protocols, SOGs, and activities

Body of water – recreational/tourist activities

Avoid and Mitigate Risk – public education and hotel inspection programs required

Railway impacts station location

Accept Risk - Implement appropriate response protocols, SOGs, and activities

Railway impacts response protocols

Accept Risk - Implement appropriate response protocols, SOGs, and activities

Building Stock Profile

Critical Infrastructure Profile

Demographic Profile

Hazard Profile

Public Safety Response Profile

Community Services Profile

Economic Profile

Past Loss and Event History Profile

Appendix B:
How the Risk Levels in the Risk Level Matrix were Determined

The risk levels in the Risk Level Matrix on page 15 were determined using the following methodology. The probability and consequence levels outlined in Table 1: Probability Level (page 13) and Table 2: Consequence Level (pages 14-15) have different definitions, but are given the same weighted numerical values[2] (see the numerical values in red below) to reflect the fact that probability and consequence are equally important. While it is human tendency to place more weight on consequence than probability, using the same weighted numerical values ensures that probability and consequence are given equal value. This approach is consistent with current risk management industry practices. The risk levels in the Risk Level Matrix were determined by multiplying the numeric values for probability and consequence.

This graphic is used to indicate a relative risk level based on a presumed level of the probability of an incident or event occurring and a presumed level of the consequence should the incident or event occur.

Appendix C:
ONTARIO REGULATION 378/18

made under the

FIRE PROTECTION AND PREVENTION ACT, 1997

COMMUNITY RISK ASSESSMENTS

Mandatory use

1. Every municipality, and every fire department in a territory without municipal organization, must,

  1. complete and review a community risk assessment as provided by this Regulation; and
  2. use its community risk assessment to inform decisions about the provision of fire protection services.

What it is

2. (1) A community risk assessment is a process of identifying, analyzing, evaluating and prioritizing risks to public safety to inform decisions about the provision of fire protection services.

(2) A community risk assessment must include consideration of the mandatory profiles listed in Schedule 1.

(3) A community risk assessment must be in the form, if any, that the Fire Marshal provides or approves.

When to complete (at least every five years)

3. (1) The municipality or fire department must complete a community risk assessment no later than five years after the day its previous community risk assessment was completed.

(2) If a municipality, or a fire department in a territory without municipal organization, comes into existence, the municipality or fire department must complete a community risk assessment no later than two years after the day it comes into existence.

(3) A municipality that exists on July 1, 2019, or a fire department in a territory without municipal organization that exists on July 1, 2019, must complete a community risk assessment no later than July 1, 2024.

(4) Subsection (3) and this subsection are revoked on July 1, 2025.

When to review (at least every year)

4. (1) The municipality or fire department must complete a review of its community risk assessment no later than 12 months after,

  1. the day its community risk assessment was completed; and
  2. the day its previous review was completed.

(2) The municipality or fire department must also review its community risk assessment whenever necessary.

(3) The municipality or fire department must revise its community risk assessment if it is necessary to reflect,

  1. any significant changes in the mandatory profiles;
  2. any other significant matters arising from the review.

(4) The municipality or fire department does not have to review its community risk assessment if it expects to complete a new community risk assessment on or before the day it would complete the review.

Commencement

5. This Regulation comes into force on the later of July 1, 2019 and the day it is filed.

Schedule 1:
Mandatory Profiles

  1. Geographic profile: The physical features of the community, including the nature and placement of features such as highways, waterways, railways, canyons, bridges, landforms and wildland-urban interfaces.
  2. Building stock profile: The types of buildings in the community, the uses of the buildings in the community, the number of buildings of each type, the number of buildings of each use and any building-related risks known to the fire department.
  3. Critical infrastructure profile: The capabilities and limitations of critical infrastructure, including electricity distribution, water distribution, telecommunications, hospitals and airports.
  4. Demographic profile: The composition of the community’s population, respecting matters relevant to the community, such as population size and dispersion, age, gender, cultural background, level of education, socioeconomic make-up, and transient population.
  5. Hazard profile: The hazards in the community, including natural hazards, hazards caused by humans, and technological hazards.
  6. Public safety response profile: The types of incidents responded to by other entities in the community, and those entities’ response capabilities.
  7. Community services profile: The types of services provided by other entities in the community, and those entities’ service capabilities.
  8. Economic profile: The economic sectors affecting the community that are critical to its financial sustainability.
  9. Past loss and event history profile: The community’s past emergency response experience, including the following analysis:

    1. The number and types of emergency responses, injuries, deaths and dollar losses.

    2. Comparison of the community’s fire loss statistics with provincial fire loss statistics.

Note: Each profile is to be interpreted as extending only to matters relevant to fire protection services.

Appendix D:
Community Risk Assessment: Flow Chart

This graphic illustrates sequential steps required to conduct a community risk assessment: Identify Risks; Prioritize Risks; Assign Risk Levels; Determine Risk Treatment Options; Determine Fire Protection Services, and Review.

Appendix E: References

DBP Management, 5 Ways to Manage Risk, dbpmanagement.com

Dillon Consulting, The Corporation of the City of Mississauga, Community Risk Identification: Introduction and Methodology, July 2017

Government of Ontario, Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997, S.O. 1997, c. 4

Government of Ontario, Ontario Regulation 378/18: Community Risk Assessments, May 2018

National Fire Protection Association, NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development, Proposed Second Draft, January 14, 2019

National Fire Protection Association Urban Fire and Life Safety Task Force, Community Risk Reduction: Doing More With More, June 2016

Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management, Comprehensive Fire Safety Effectiveness Model: Fire Prevention Effectiveness Model – Position Paper, September 1997

Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management, Comprehensive Fire Safety Effectiveness Model: Fire Risk Sub-Model, June 2009

Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management, Public Fire Safety Guideline 04-40A-03: Simplified Risk Assessment, January 2006

U.S. Fire Administration, Risk Management Practices in the Fire Service, January 2018

Vision 20/20, Community Risk Assessment: A Guide for Conducting a Community Risk Assessment, Version 1.5, February 2016

Vision 20/20, Community Risk Reduction Planning: A Guide for Developing a Community Risk Reduction Plan, Version 4, June 2016

[1] See Appendix B for a description of how risk levels (low, moderate, and high) were determined.

[2] The numeric scale used here is taken from Dillon Consulting, The Corporation of the City of Mississauga, Community Risk Identification: Introduction and Methodology, July 2017.