Bill Would Make British Columbia's Fire Code Compliance Monitoring Risk-Based

"The Fire Chiefs' Association of BC applauds the adoption of the new Fire Safety Act. This legislation provides local governments with new and better tools with which they can provide for fire safety within their communities," said Timothy Pley, president of the Fire Chiefs' Association of British Columbia.

A newly filed Fire Safety Act in British Columbia will replace the Fire Services Act, legislation that has not had a substantial update since 1979, and the provincial government's fire authorities say the bill will:

  • improve fire code compliance monitoring by making it risk-based
  • enable local authorities to appoint fire safety personnel to carry out fire inspections, investigations, and evacuations
  • establish an administrative enforcement model to address non-compliance issues in a more timely and effective way
  • shift to a risk-based approach for compliance monitoring in municipalities

"The Fire Chiefs' Association of BC applauds the adoption of the new Fire Safety Act. This legislation provides local governments with new and better tools with which they can provide for fire safety within their communities," said Timothy Pley, president of the Fire Chiefs' Association of British Columbia. "The adoption of a risk-based model of fire code compliance monitoring will help local governments apply their fire prevention and inspection efforts where the need exists, preventing fires and providing for life safety where the fire risk is highest. Local governments are now empowered to exercise local government authority in mitigating imminent fire risk, rather than the older system of referring those concerns to the provincial government for action. Local governments will now be able to take immediate mitigation actions when imminent life safety risks are found. This means safer communities for citizens and for the firefighters serving within those communities."

The Fire Safety Act takes into account feedback received during what the authorities describe as an extensive consultation process. The most recent consultation group included representation from the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, Local Government Management Association, the Fire Chiefs' Association, Fire Training Officers Association, Fire Prevention Officers Association of BC, Volunteer Fire Fighters' Association of BC, and the BC Professional Fire Fighters' Association.

"The new act will result in a manageable and streamlined out-of-court enforcement system with administrative penalties aimed at improving compliance. And it will provide local authorities with the power to evacuate or close a building where there is immediate danger to life and/or property. It also streamlines the fire inspection and investigation process. Simply, this new legislation will improve fire safety in B.C," said Naomi Yamamoto, minister of State for Emergency Preparedness.

"The goal of the Fire Safety Act is to modernize the legislation and to make improvements to help ensure the safety of British Columbians," agreed Todd Stone, minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. " What is under consideration takes into account the collective work of a number of previous efforts to update this legislation – the Fire Services Act was last updated 20 years ago, and these would be the first significant amendments proposed in over three and a half decades."

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