Fire Department Resources

Job Description - Volunteer Fire Chief

The following is a sample Job Description for the position of Volunteer Fire Chief. You are encouraged to copy and alter to meet your requirements.

Purpose of the Job:

Reporting to the (name of position), the fire chief will administer, plan, direct and control all aspects of the fire department including administration, fire suppression, fire prevention and rescue activities of the department as authorized by the (name bylaw – Fire Department Establishment and Control Bylaw). The fire chief will also administer applicable local, provincial and federal fire regulations.  Administrative duties comprise planning, directing, and controlling all fire department activities including recruitment of personnel, purchase of equipment, control of expenditures, preparation of budget estimates and the assignment of personnel and equipment. The fire chief consults with the (name of position) on issues of policy and planning, but works independently in supervising technical operations.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Plan direct and supervise through subordinate officers the activities of the fire department as specified in the Fire Department Establishment and Control Bylaw.
  • Establish and implement Operational Guidelines based on best practices and OH&S regulations.
  • Have training programs developed and implemented in accordance with accepted standards to improve the understanding and skill of all staff in fire fighting and rescue procedures. (Add additional topics to meet the service provided by the jurisdiction; e.g. medical first responder)
  • Ensure adequate records are kept of all required maintenance and training.
  • Prepare and submit an annual budget and long-range plan and make expenditures within approved limits.
  • Develop and revise a long-range capital plan to keep pace with development.
  • Liaise with and advise planning, engineering and other departments on development implications for fire fighting as part of the development approval process.
  • Ensure that all local government policies and processes are adhered to.
  • Maintain an effective working relationship with all local government departments and carry out such additional duties as requested by the (name of position).
  • Ensure that inquiries and complaints regarding fire department activities or responsibilities are handled promptly, efficiently, effectively and with courtesy.
  • Liaise with representatives of neighbouring fire departments to ensure adequate mutual aid agreements are made for mitigating major emergency incidents.
  • Participate in the local and regional emergency planning process.
  • Participate in Fire Chiefs’ Association at the provincial or regional level.

Organizational Relationship:

  • The fire chief reports to (name of position).

Recommended Qualifications:

Education/Training:

  • Secondary School graduation
  • Completed or participating in a training program based on IFSTA Essentials of Fire Firefighting
  • Completed or enrolled in a recognized Officer Training Program.

Recommended Experience:

  • A minimum of five (5) years with a fire department.
  • Progressive responsibility level within the fire service.
  • Previous experience as a fire department officer.
  • Previous management experience is an asset.

Occupational Certification:

  • Valid driver’s license for the (name of jurisdiction), (appropriate class with endorsements) preferred.

Knowledge:

  • Knowledge of Fire Department Operational Guidelines, policies, procedures and applicable local bylaws, provincial codes, regulations, acts and standards.
  • Knowledge of the NFPA 1001 and 1002 Firefighter Training Standard and OH&S regulations.
  • Knowledge and training in Incident Command System (ICS) minimum ICS 200.
  • Knowledge of the community and fire protection area.

Skills & Abilities:

  • Ability to be an effective leader
  • Ability to organize & delegate
  • Ability to effectively administer the operations of a volunteer fire department
  • Ability to effectively communicate verbally and in writing and maintain positive public relations for the fire department and the governing body.
  • Ability to supervise and participate in the preparation of all necessary reports, records and correspondence.
  • Willingness and commitment to participate in training programs and workshops.

I have read and understand this job description.

Employee signature ________________________________
Date ____________________

This job description is the minimum requirements of this job’s assigned duties, tasks and responsibilities.

District Official Signature (title) ________________________________
Date ____________________

Job Description Administrative Assistant - Volunteer Fire Department

The following is a sample Job Description for the position of Administrative Assistant. You are encouraged to copy and alter to meet your requirements.

Definition:

The Administrative Assistant position provides administration, financial management and record keeping support to the ______ Fire Department. This position requires an individual who possesses excellent organizational skills and the disposition to work well with other department members, local government representatives and the public. The position answers to the Fire Chief and Deputy Fire Chief in the Chief’s absence.

Equipment Operated:

The position requires the operation of a personal computer, photocopier, multi-line phone system, and other equipment normally found in a modern office environment.

Essential Job Functions:

  • Maintain confidentiality about information learned on the job.
  • Understand or possess the ability to learn the department policies and procedures.
  • Assist the Fire Chief with all aspects of budget preparation and management, including budget disbursement records.
  • Purchase and maintains office supplies used by the department.
  • Maintain a small petty cash fund.
  • Maintain complete and accurate files on department personnel including recruits, existing members and past members.
  • Accurately prepare, proof read and edit correspondence, reports and other documents.
  • Coordinate the recruitment and orientation of new employees from a human resources perspective.
  • Coordinate with the HR Department to ensure procedural compliance with local government policy.
  • Prepare statistical information as requested.
  • Routinely update the department website as new information is supplied by other department members.
  • Perform other related duties and special projects as requested.
  • Must be at least 19 years of age and have the ability to work independently.

Requested Skills and Abilities:

  • Ability to work alone.
  • Possess the ability to concentrate and accomplish tasks despite numerous interruptions.
  • Excellent keyboarding skills are needed.
  • Possess good working knowledge of personal computers with Microsoft Office software and be familiar with computer record management software.
  • Must be willing to learn new software programs specifically designed for the fire service.
  • Must be physically and mentally capable of developing, implementing and utilizing a records management system including filing documents and records.
  • Possess excellent interpersonal skills with the ability to communicate effectively orally and in writing in English with the public, elected officials, department heads and other fire department members.<

Hours of Work:

The department wishes to establish regular office hours for the public. The hours of operation will be based on the incumbent’s availability but should be a minimum of four hours per week.  If additional hours are required to fulfill the job they are flexible and can be home or fire hall based.

Benefits

There are a number of reasons to volunteer for this position, including:

  • You will become a member of a dynamic group of community minded individuals who want to help others.
  • You will add to your skill set and employers will recognize your volunteer contribution.
  • Volunteering presents challenges and opportunities for you to grow.
  • As you gain experience you gain self confidence and self-esteem.
  • Volunteering shows character.

Service Life of Fire Apparatus

Fire Underwriters Survey (FUS) is the primary service provider to Insurance Underwriters in Canada that determines the fire insurance grade for a community.  FUS will consider apparatus up to twenty years of age, particularly if the apparatus is ULC approved and meets Underwriters’ Laboratories of Canada (ULC) S515 Automobile Fire Fighting Apparatus, or National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1901 Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus.
The apparatus can remain in service for up to thirty years as a second line pumper providing it meets the annual pump testing requirements.

Annex D of NFPA 1901 and now in NFPA 1906 gives guidance on when fire apparatus should be placed in reserve status. It states, “Because the changes, upgrades, and fine tuning to NFPA 1901 since 1991 have been truly significant, especially in the area of safety, fire departments should seriously consider the value (or risk) to fire fighters of keeping pre-1991 editions of NFPA 1901 fire apparatus in first-line service.”

The annex provides more detailed information on the rationale and the various safety factors incorporated.  So essentially, if your fire apparatus was not constructed to these standards, then there is reduced safety for your fire service members.  A risk benefit analysis should be undertaken and a replacement schedule identified.

Now what does this mean regarding fire apparatus specified to the ULC standard?  As the ULC S-515 Edition was first produced in 1988, it would therefore not include the safety features incorporated in the NFPA 1901 1991 edition.  Only subsequent amendments would have addressed these.  Vehicle manufacturers would, however, have considered many of these improvements regardless of what was specified in the ULC standard.  So any apparatus specified to the ULC standard should be compared to the safety components introduced in the NFPA edition starting in 1991 and retirement considerations should be based on this.

Information on the Fire Underwriters Survey can be found here.

Generic Policy on Use of Fire Department Facilities and Equipment

Policy Title:  Use Of Fire Department Equipment & Facilities

Policy Statement:

The fire halls shall only be used by Fire Department or (name of district) District personnel for activities connected with the Fire Department or the District.  These may include but not be limited to training, public meetings, open houses, fire hall tours or public safety education courses.

Outside groups shall not be permitted to use these facilities unless there is some Fire Department issue and involvement of Fire Department personnel.

Members shall be permitted to use the lounge areas of the fire halls for special events after obtaining permission from the Fire Chief or, in their absence, the Deputy Fire Chief.  Members shall be responsible for cleaning the rooms and equipment used and broken items shall be replaced at the member’s expense.

Members may use the tools in the fire hall workshops but are expected to replace any broken or lost tools.  No personal business shall be done on Fire Department computers or telephones.

Fire Department apparatus shall not be used to fill swiming pools or water wells.

Fire Department air compressors shall not be used to fill breathing apparatus for the public.

Fire Department equipment and apparatus including the Fire/Rescue boat shall not be used to provide a service in the community that is commercially available.

Purchasing Fire Apparatus

Purchasing new fire apparatus is a major investment for any community. Fire engines are very specialized and serve multi-purpose functions so those responsible for procurement must understand the expected workload and diversity of operations. A new engine will be in service for a long period of time so it is very important to select the right vehicle for the job.

Acquiring a new fire engine for a community is a huge responsibility, but it is also a common occurrence that need not be feared. By doing some research and checking supplier references from other communities who have recently purchased units, a comfort and knowledge level can be established by those involved in the process. The result will be a purchase that provides good value and meets the needs of the community for many years.

It is important that the appropriate type and size of apparatus is acquired and that it is well equipped with the necessary tools for mitigating the risks that have been identified in the community. Considerable information gathering and product research can be done over the internet and once suppliers are aware the community is considering purchasing new apparatus they will be aggressive in supplying information about their products.

Most communities endeavor to comply with Fire Underwriter’s Survey (FUS) requirements to maximize insurance premium reductions for their constituents. These requirements state that frontline apparatus should be less than 20 years old, maintained and tested annually. Apparatus older than 20 years can be used as a second line or reserve apparatus with annual testing and re-certification up to 30 years. Apparatus that is 30 years of age and older is not given any credit by FUS.

Acquiring the right type of apparatus will mean that the requirements of FUS would be met with respect to capacity, equipment and age. By meeting the FUS requirements the community should continue to realize a financial benefit through reduced fire insurance premiums. An additional benefit that will be realized is the improved level of firefighter safety that will be afforded to the personnel operating a modern fire engine.

A cursory risk assessment of the community and an analysis of the call statistics will reveal the number and type of responses the new apparatus will be responding to.

Consideration should also be given to the water supply available in the community. A good water system with hydrant protection may reduce the need for large volumes of water to be transported to the scene. This means that a new engine may not be required to carry more than 500 gallons of water to meet ULC standards. Because of this, the gross weight of a new vehicle may be less so access to the hose bed, ladders and other critical equipment will be easier as this equipment will be lower on the truck.

Without hydrants large volumes of water has to be transported to the scene to support firefighting operations.

Any new apparatus should be able to pump the required fire flow to satisfy FUS requirements but also have the capacity to carry the additional equipment required for other types of calls. The Can ULC S-515-04 and NFPA Standards will have mandatory requirements such as the water tank capacity, number of discharge and intake ports, hose bed capacity, size and number of ground ladders, and personnel safety features to meet the standards.

Chassis can be ordered from most manufacturers that meet the NFPA 1901 Standard. This is important for firefighter safety as the standard has addressed seating, noise levels, handling and stability, braking, acceleration and other issues that are not included in a regular chassis.

Having the right suspension is a critical consideration for fire engines because they sit for long periods of time and are always fully loaded. The trend in newer chassis is to air bag suspension in the rear. Over time, leaf spring suspension will sag and the leaves in the springs can break.

The importance of having the complete engine properly engineered cannot be over emphasized. A fire engine that is overloaded or the centre of gravity is too high will cause long term problems. The engineering in a new vehicle should take into account the additional equipment that will be added and where it will be mounted to ensure axles and suspension ratings are not exceeded. The engineering will also ensure the proper size tires are on the unit and that the braking systems are adequate for the weight. A new NFPA 1901 2009 Edition compliant engine will also have stability systems to help prevent rollover accidents.

An ongoing debate within the fire service is how should a community procure a new fire truck? Some Fire Chiefs and the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) insist on having a detailed specification (spec) tender process for ordering a new truck. Others feel a Request for Proposals (RFP) is a better way to go about ordering a new fire apparatus. We will explore both options in another blog.

For more information please contact Glen Sanders.

Glen Sanders has been in the fire service for over 31 years, 21 as a fire chief. He has been directly involved in the purchase of 15 new fire apparatus for his community and has advised other jurisdictions on their purchases of new fire apparatus.

Fire Hall Location and Design

The decision to have a fire department rests with the community which will be served.  In most cases the fire department is administered by the local government body.  Once the decision has been made to offer fire protection the governing body must then determine the type and level of services to be delivered.  In simple terms this means that once the administrative body determines what services will be delivered they are obliged to meet a duty of care to the community and must take reasonable steps to fund, administer, equip and train the fire department.  The duty of care is measured based upon available resources and what other comparable jurisdictions do when offering similar services. This includes the provision of an adequate fire hall from which to operate

History has shown that a fire hall’s normal life span can easily exceed 50 years with many reaching seventy years of service or greater.  It is therefore important during the design phase to envision the future of the community and give consideration to the type of service that will be needed and demanded by constituents in the future.  It is more economical in the long term to build for what will be needed than it is to meet only the demands of today.

A fire station supports the needs of the fire department and the community it serves.  It must accommodate diverse functions, including administration, training, community education, equipment and vehicle storage, maintenance, recreation and housing In some cases.   Fire stations vary in design depending on specific services they provide.  The actual location of the fire hall is for the most part determined by call volume and the need to minimize response times.

Some of the critical factors that affect the location and design of a fire hall include:

  • Community risk assessment
  • Demographics
  • Population density
  • Potential growth
  • Official community plans
  • Community support
  • Career versus volunteer staffing of the department
  • Location of available responders
  • Available land for fire hall use
  • Size of the property
  • Topography and climatic conditions
  • Training facilities
  • Space required for fire department operations such as administration and training
  • Number and size of apparatus to be housed
  • Water supply for refilling apparatus
  • Work space for fire apparatus maintenance and servicing
  • Ancillary equipment needs
  • Recreation and meeting facilities

Building a new fire station is an important decision and one which deserves thorough investigation and planning. It is a major investment not just in terms of dollars but also in terms of providing a focal point in the community.  A well-organized functional fire station with adequate space can aid in attracting and retaining fire department members.

For more information about fire hall location and design please click on the contact link.

Volunteer Firefighter Tax Credit

For information on the Volunteer Firefighter Tax Credit click here.

Fire Investigation Field Form

As a service to fire investigators, FireWise Consulting Ltd. has developed a Fire Investigation Field Form that ensures the investigator collects the basic information required to complete a fire report.  Please feel free to use this form as is or modify it to suit your needs.

Dust Awareness Message

To view a short safety message about combustible dust awareness click on this link.

Commercial Cooking Equipment Inspections

General requirements

Designed, constructed and installed to conform to NFPA 96.
Fire protection systems are required for commercial cooking equipment using vegetable oil or animal fat.

A commercial kitchen which generates odours, smoke, steam, or heat shall have a mechanical ventilation system that includes canopies, ductwork and fans to the exterior of the building.

Cooking equipment used in fixed, mobile or temporary concessions, such as truck, buses, trailers, pavilions, tents or any form of roofed enclosure, shall comply with this standard.

Grease filters

Grease filters must be:

  • listed and constructed of steel equivalent material  that will not distort or be crushed.
  • arranged so that all exhaust air passes through the grease filters.
  • easily accessible and removable for cleaning.
  • installed at an angle not less than 45 degrees from the horizontal.
  • equipped with a grease drip tray beneath their lower edges.
  • kept to the minimum size needed to collect grease.
  • pitched to drain into an enclosed metal container having a capacity not exceeding3.785L (1 gal).

Clearances

8 inch vertical or 16 inch horizontal separation must be maintained between deep fryers and open flame appliances.

Automatic suppression system

Maintenance inspection every 6 months & tagged.

Manual control WITHIN 20′ is unobstructed with operating instructions posted conspicuously in the kitchen.

Ensure fusible link(s) are replaced every 6 months with listed links; e.g., Kidde with Kidde.

Nozzles are aligned and cover cooking appliances.

Operation of extinguishing system shall shut off all sources of fuel and electricity to all equipment under hood.

Shut down of electric and gas shall require manual resetting.

All fixed pipe extinguishing systems in a single hazard area shall operate simultaneously.

Upon activation, an audible alarm or visual indicator shows that the system has activated.

Activates the building’s fire alarm if so equipped.

Portable extinguisher

K class extinguisher is installed in a conspicuous place, maintained and tagged annually.
A placard shall be installed over the “K” class extinguisher noting its use as a secondary backup means to the automatic fire suppression system.

Use and maintenance

Exhaust systems shall be operated whenever cooking equipment is turned on.

Filter-equipped exhaust systems shall not be operated with filters removed.

Cooking equipment shall not be operated while it’s fire extinguishing or exhaust system is nonoperational.

Exhaust system must be cleaned at least every 6 months or as grease builds up.

Flammable products are not allowed to be used for cleaning.

Cooking operations that produce heavy grease must be cleaned every 3 months or more frequently if required.

Low-volume cooking operations such as community centres and churches may be cleaned annually with the approval of the authority having jurisdiction.

Hoods, grease removal devices, fans, ducts, and other appurtenances shall be cleaned at frequent intervals to prevent surfaces from becoming heavily contaminated with grease or other residues.

A qualified cleaning contractor must provide a maintenance certificate attached to the kitchen hood or posted in the kitchen area.  The maintenance certificate shall detail the following information:

• Name, address and phone number of cleaning company,

• Printed name and the signature of the qualified on-site person supervising the cleaning,

• Date of cleaning and/or inspection.  Next cleaning due date and recommended cleaning frequency,

• Confirmation indicating if the system could not be cleaned in all areas and WHY

• Name of the recognized training organization from which the supervisor and/or the cleaning crew members have received their qualification.

Clearances

8 inch vertical or 16 inch horizontal separation between deep fryer and open flame appliances.

No grease-laden vapours

If cooking does not produce grease-laden vapours, have an agreement in writing with the Authority Having Jurisdiction.

Fuel Dispensing Stations - Checklist

Definition:

Any premise where flammable or combustible liquids are dispensed from fixed equipment into the fuel tanks of motor vehicles, watercraft or floatplanes.

Above Ground Tanks

  • The BC Fire Code limits the maximum size of a tank to 50,000 L and a total capacity 150,000 L
  • Physical protection from collision – concrete island 100 mm high or posts and guardrails etc.
  • Prevention of unauthorized access
  • Measures must be taken to contain spills
  • Installed on the ground or foundation of concrete masonry or steel – if subject to flooding be strapped

Location

Outside buildings

  • 3 m from property line – 3 m from propane dispenser – 1.5 m from gas dispenser
  • 6 m from ignition source – 3m from building openings  – 6 m from propane tank

Underground Tanks

  • Venting 3.5 m above ground – 1.5 m from bldg. openings – 7.5 m from dispenser
  • Tanks that are taken out of service must comply with Part 4 of the BC Fire Code

Emergency Shut-off Device

Must be clearly identified, readily accessible and shielded from any fire

Portable Extinguishers

Areas that handle flammable or combustible liquids are classified as extra hazard locations and require a minimum of two 10BC rated portable fire extinguishers to be located within a travel distance of 9 metres.

Delivery Hose

  • Hose length restricted to 4.5 m
  • Nozzles must be the automatic closing type.

No Smoking Signs required 200mm 25 mm high letters

Fire Safety Plan

The BC Fire Code requires a Fire Safety Plan which includes instructions to staff on how to deal with emergencies and measures to deal with spills.

Supervision

  • At least one attendant must be on site while open for business
  • The duties of attendant must be understood by all employees and be posted

Spill Protection

  • The site must be graded to control spills
  • Absorbent material must be readily available

Inventory Control for Underground Storage Tanks

Leak Detection Tools

  •  Paste for finding water – monthly
  • Gauge stick – 1/8 inch increments not cut off or worn off at the “0” end
  • Forms to record Daily & Monthly leak detection

Measurements

  • Measure the tank every day that fuel is added or removed using a gauge stick or a mechanical or electronic tank level monitor.
    • Step 1—Measure the Tank’s Contents
    • Step 2—Record the Amount Pumped
    • Step 3—Record Fuel Deliveries
    • Step 4—Calculate Daily Changes In Inventory
    • Step 5—Calculate Monthly Changes In Inventory
  • Measure each tank every operating day
  • Use gauge sticks that are marked to the 1/8 inch not cut off or worn off at the “0” end
  • Measure just before each delivery
  • Read and record totalizer meters carefully
  • Check for water at least once a month using water-finding paste

LNG Information for Firefighters

Click here for LNG information for firefighters.

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: info@firewiseconsulting.com

Fire Safety Plan for Small Assembly Occupancy (Sample)

Click here for a sample fire safety plan for small assembly occupancy.

Natural Gas for Transportation for First Responders

Click here for an information sheet on natural gas transportation for first responders, courtesy of Fortis BC.

LNG Road Tanker Emergency Guideline

Click here for a guideline for LNG road tanker emergencies, courtesy of Fortis BC.