Ministry of the
Solicitor General

Directive: 2019-002

FIRE MARSHAL’S DIRECTIVE: 2019-002

TOPIC: NOTIFICATION OF FIRES AND EXPLOSIONS

This directive is issued under the clause 9.(1)(b) of the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997 (FPPA), and supersedes Fire Marshal’s Directive 2019-001 issued on May 17, 2019.

Background:

It is the responsibility of every assistant to the Fire Marshal to follow the Fire Marshal’s directive as set out in subsection 11.(1) of the FPPA.

Under clause 9.(2)(a) of the FPPA, it is a duty of the Fire Marshal to investigate the cause, origin and circumstances of any fire or of any explosion or condition that, in the opinion of the Fire Marshal, might have caused a fire, explosion, loss of life or damage to property. In order to carry out this duty, specified fires must be reported to the Fire Marshal. Clauses 11.(2) and 11.(3) of the FPPA, establish fire reporting duties for Assistants to the Fire Marshal.

Directive:

All assistants to the Fire Marshal shall notify forthwith the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre (PEOC) Duty Officer, Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFMEM) at 1-800-461-2281 (toll free) of all incidents that meet or that appear to meet the following criteria[1]:

  • Fires or explosions resulting in either a fatality or serious injury requiring person(s) to be admitted as in-patient(s) to a hospital (it is the responsibility of the fire department to make every reasonable effort to confirm the status of injured persons transported to hospital prior to the release of the fire scene).
  • Explosions (where the explosion is the primary event).
  • Fires or explosions suspected of being incendiary (criminal). Discretion may be used when there is no impact to a building(s) or in circumstances where there is no clear threat to life.  These types of fires include dumpster fires, car fires, and wild land fires. All incendiary fires and explosions must also be reported to the Police authority having jurisdiction.
  • Fires or explosions where the loss is significant to the community[2].
  • Fires resulting in unusual fire/smoke spread.
  • Fires or explosions involving circumstances that may result in widespread public concern (e.g. environmental hazard).
  • Fires or explosions in multi-unit residential occupancies where fire spread or explosion impact is beyond unit of origin, or where suspected Fire Code violations have impacted on the circumstances of the event.
  • Fire or explosions involving clandestine drug operations or marijuana grow operations.

OFMEM Fire Investigation Services Response:

  1. All notifications involving a fatality, serious injury or explosion will be evaluated 24/7 for determination of investigation requirements, and deployment of fire investigation staff.
  2. All other incidents will be evaluated during regular business hours (7:30 am – 4:00 pm) for a determination of investigative requirements.

When an OFMEM response is deferred to the next business day, the PEOC Duty Officer will inform the caller that all steps shall be taken to secure the scene and that the OFMEM will be notified of the request at 7:30 a.m. The OFMEM Duty Manager or Duty Supervisor will determine who will respond to a reported incident.

An OFMEM manager is available after regular business hours to deal with circumstances that call for direct consultation with the OFMEM.

Special Consideration – Fires of a Potential Criminal Nature:

Part of the mandate of the OFMEM is to assist the local police in determining whether a fire is criminal in nature. In the event that a scene is potentially criminal in nature, the police are the lead agency and they may liaise directly with the OFMEM. The OFMEM will make reasonable effort to advise the local fire service when this occurs.

OFMEM notification by Police Agencies and or Indigenous Communities:

Police agencies and or Indigenous Communities may directly notify the OFMEM of incidents through the PEOC.

Scene Security:

Fire and explosion investigation protocols require that the security of the scene be maintained prior to the arrival of an OFMEM or police investigator. When a fire investigation is assigned to an investigator, it is the responsibility of the fire department to provide all necessary documents, including, but not limited to, firefighter statements, dispatch chronology, incident commander report detailing suppression and overhaul activities, and fire prevention files as required by the investigator. Any received media requests should be deferred to the lead investigating agency.

Media:

In order to ensure investigative integrity for the various investigative agencies that may be involved, assistants to the Fire Marshal are advised that media requests should be coordinated by all respective responsible agencies. Matters that are beyond the authority of the responding fire department should be deferred to the lead investigating agency. OFM fire investigators are experienced on these matters and are available to consult on appropriate communication strategies as required.

Rationale:

This directive provides direction to assistants to the Fire Marshal on the reporting of fire incidents in support of the prescribed responsibilities, powers and duties of the Fire Marshal under the FPPA.

Jon Pegg

Fire Marshal and Chief, Emergency Management

July 10, 2019

 

[1] This Directive does not affect the ability of Assistants to the Fire Marshal to contact the PEOC for any fire or explosion for which they desire consultation. Further, they may contact the PEOC for fires or explosions of unusual cause, origin, or circumstances which may be of interest to the OFMEM.

[2]Significant loss is classified as being at least either $500,000 or twice the residential average sale price. The local authority having jurisdiction has the discretion of which method they classify a significant loss.