Fire Safety Act update: UBCM Convention

Publishing Date

At the 2023 UBCM Convention, Fire Commissioner Brian Godlonton of the Office of the Fire Commissioner (OFC) will participate in a workshop to provide an update on the Fire Safety Act and its fire-risk reduction initiatives. This workshop is particularly relevant for regional districts, as their concerns and challenges with the Act have been the focus of UBCM policy work since 2016.

Join the workshop: Monday, September 18, 2:15-4:15pm.

A brief history of the Fire Safety Act

In 2015 the new Fire Safety Act was introduced to replace the Fire Services Act. Of specific interest for regional districts, the Act would require them to appoint fire inspectors and investigators to cover unincorporated areas of the province. Regional districts, and UBCM, pushed back against this change, saying regional districts do not have the financial and technical resources, capacity, or the authority to take on such responsibility. The Act received royal assent in 2016, but was never brought into force, in part due to the opposition from regional districts.

In the following years, while UBCM worked with the OFC and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to find ways to address these concerns, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth directed the OFC to add risk-based compliance monitoring to the regional district’s responsibilities, on top of inspections and investigations.

UBCM consistently pushed back, saying while local governments agree there needs to be a single standard of fire safety in the province, it did not agree that regional districts were the appropriate body.

This summer, Minister Farnworth updated his direction, taking risk-based compliance monitoring off the list for regional districts, and indicating the Province’s intention to bring the Act into force as enacted in 2016. This means that regional districts would be required to designate inspectors and investigators.

UBCM continues to work with the OFC and related partners through the Single Standard of Fire Safety Working Group, to make sure the new legislation reasonably takes into account capacity constraints of regional districts.

During the Monday workshop there will be an opportunity to hear from the OFC on the Fire Safety Act’s implementation, and offer feedback to the Fire Commissioner.

Additional information on the rationale, objectives, and issues raised by the Single Standard of Fire Safety Working Group can be found here: Fire Safety Act backgrounder.