In response to a tragic line of duty death of a fire fighter, the Chief Coroner of BC made three recommendations to the Fire Commissioner of BC (OFC). As directed by the Coroner, the OFC distributed a bulletin to all known fire departments and the Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) for volunteer fire departments in the province.
To see the complete text of the OFC's bulletin click on OFC Bulletin
One of the Coroner's recommendations was, "The Office of the Fire Commissioner together with the employer of fire departments (AHJ) initiate and maintain a regular inspection and audit process to ensure volunteer fire departments and fire fighters meet provincially recognized standards for equipment, training and operational policy."
To see the OFC's checklist click on Fire Department Inspection Audit Checklist.
The OFC established a working group to make recommendations on fire department audits. It was agreed by the working group that "any document must be designed to be completed by the employer of the volunteer fire department and the fire chief."
The OFC developed and distributed a checklist forming the basis for the audit, which is to be completed annually. It is not the intention of the audit to "cause the demise of rural volunteer fire departments". It is recognized that many volunteer fire departments may not be compliant with the recognized provincial standard.
Some AHJ or local governments responsible for volunteer fire departments may have a number of fire departments under their jurisdiction while others may only be responsible for one. Many AHJ lack the resources and/or expertise to perform the audits with their Fire Chief(s). Many fire departments may also lack the knowledge and requirements of the accepted standards and will need assistance and advice.
Generally accepted Risk Management practices reduce the potential liability created by performing the audits and will provide the AHJ and fire department with a benchmark of where they are in terms of the OFC checklist. The Coroner's recommendations and the OFC Bulletin have been widely publicized and AHJ are encouraged to ensure the fire departments they are responsible for comply with the OFC checklist.
The objective of the inspections and audits is to improve the level of safety for volunteer fire fighters by assessing the operational readiness of a fire department in comparison to the recognized Provincial Standard. This will help to ensure fighters are trained to a recognized standard for the services they provide to their communities.