Municipal Fire Inspection Programs

There are a number of reasons why municipalities mandate their fire departments to perform fire safety  inspections, including:

  • Fire prevention is cheaper than fire suppression
  • Pre-fire Planning
  • Statutory obligations require inspection programs
  • Insurance rate reductions are based in part on a regular system of inspections

In British Columbia municipalities are required by Section 26 (1) of the Fire Services Act (R.S.B.C.1996) to provide for a regular system of inspection on hotels and public buildings.  The definition of municipality for the purposes of the Act includes villages, towns, cities, municipal districts and resort municipalities.  In many cases municipal council delegates the inspection program to the fire department.  Often the fire department lacks the expertise or resources to perform the inspections, resulting in potential liability for the local government.  Failure to comply with this obligation may serve as evidence of negligence, thereby resulting in civil liability.

In one case a plaintiff was advised by the fire department that a building was in compliance with the BC Fire Code.  The plaintiff bought the building and then found out it was non-compliant.  Legal action ensued and the trial judge agreed with the plaintiff and awarded damages in the amount necessary to make the building right.

The standard of care is not set in stone, but rather, an ever moving target adjusted by the facts of a particular case.

FireWise Consulting offers inspection services that allow municipalities to meet their obligations under the Fire Services Act. The municipality maintains control of the frequency of inspections and enforcement action taken to correct fire safety deficiencies.

View the Municipal Inspection Program pdf file.

For further information please contact us