Reportable Fires

All fires that cause damage to property, injuries or fatalities, or which require fire department resources to suppress must be reported to the Office of the Fire Commissioner. They include:

Structural Fires Vehicle Fires Outdoor Fires
  • Buildings
  • Piers
  • Decks and patios
  • Parkades and covered parking lots
  • Cars and trucks
  • Trains
  • Boats
  • Planes
  • All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) 
  • Dumpsters
  • Playground equipment
  • Telephone booths and poles

Examples of Reportable Fires

Fires are reportable if there is extensive smoke or heat damage and a fire department’s assistance is required to clear the smoke. They include:

  • Outdoor dumpster fires: All dumpster fires must be reported.
  • Fires that were extinguished prior to fire department attendance: Even though the fire was suppressed by civilians, fire fighters will need to check for hotspots, determine the cause of the fire and report it to the Fire Commissioner.
  • Unattended fires: These include backyard, camp and beach fires.
  • Grass, landscape and bark mulch fires: And any other type of outdoor fire that has spread or gone out of control whether it is attended or unattended.

Examples of Non-reportable Events

Events are not reportable if there is smoke but no fire and there is little or no damage to property. They include:

  • False alarms
  • Off-season yard burning when attended by the owner or occupier.
  • Illegal bonfires or campfires when they are attended.
  • Bylaw infractions or burning complaints when they are attended by the owner or occupier.
  • Vehicle fires resulting from motor vehicle accidents unless an exposure fire occurs to an adjacent object or building.
  • Explosions of ammunition, steam boilers, hot water tanks or other pressure vessels due to internal pressure not internal combustion.

Exposure Fires

  • A building that burns as a result of radiant heat from a fire in an adjacent building
  • A vehicle parked on a street (or motorhome parked next to a garage/house) that burns as a result of radiant heat from a fire in an adjacent building
  • A building fire that occurs as a result of a vehicle collision
  • A fire that spreads from one separate building to another separate building

Not an Exposure Fire

  • A fire in a garage attached to a house where the fire originates in the house but spreads to the garage
  • A fire that spreads through separate shops contained in a business block, building or shopping mall that burns
  • Vehicles parked in a garage or building (e.g. underground parking lot) that burn as a result of a fire in the garage or building. In this case, the vehicles are considered contents of the garage or building. However, if the damage is confined to the vehicle, it will be considered a vehicle fire. Should the fire spread beyond the vehicle and damage any part of the garage, the incident will be considered a structure fire listing the vehicle(s) as contents
  • A fire that occurs in a boat tied up to or moored at a wharf or marina and the damage is confined to the boat, is a boat fire. However, if the fire spreads from the boat to other boats tied up or moored at the wharf or marina, whether attached by mooring lines or contained within sheds, the original boat is considered as contents of the marina. Damage to other boats or surrounding structures is considered part of the property fire and reported as contents losses or building losses, respectively. Boats burned in this manner are not individual exposure fires

Reporting Timelines

Under the Fire Services Act, an investigation into a fire must start within three days of the incident, excluding holidays. The fire must be reported to the Office of the Fire Commissioner when the investigation is completed.

Minimum Dollar Loss required

If completing an Outdoor Fire Report for a grass fire, the dollar loss will be $0. If a dumpster fire occurs, there would be an approximate dollar loss for the damage that was sustained.

Property Value at Risk information

A general estimate for the property and contents value that was at risk from the fire condition is sufficient. Fire departments may also obtain approximate square footage information from building official, BC Assessment, insurance companies or the British Columbia Real Estate Association.