Local Assistant to the Fire Chief’s Legal Authority to Enter Under Section 10 of the Fire Services Act

The Fire Services Act gives the local assistant (an LAFC within their area of jurisdiction), the fire commissioner and the fire commissioner’s inspectors the authority to enter and examine a building, premises, motor vehicle, vessel or rolling stock where a fire has occurred, and, if necessary, those adjoining or near the fire (Section FSA 10).

Section 10, of the Fire Services Act, also gives the local assistant, the fire commissioner and the fire commissioner’s inspectors the authority to exclude a person from the building, premises, motor vehicle, vessel or rolling stock where a fire has occurred.

Section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (CCRF) states: "Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.

The purpose of the fire investigation, conducted under the Fire Services Act, is to establish the cause, origin and circumstances of the fire only (Section FSA 9).

The Fire Services Act does not give the LAFC, the fire commissioner or the fire commissioner’s inspectors any authority to determine or investigate criminal activity.

Therefore, if criminal activity is suspected, the local police must be contacted immediately by the fire investigating officer to:

  • Maintain proper legal procedure during the continued investigation, and
  • Ensure that a reasonable search or seizure is conducted (Section 8 CCRF)

Also, the LAFC must immediately make a preliminary report to the fire commissioner if a fire appears to be of suspicious origin (Section FSA 13).