Reporting a fire: guidelines, manuals and forms

Resources to help with filing a fire incident report.

On this page:


Reporting a fire

Report a fire in the FIRE system.

Login to the FIRE system


Reporting guidelines

All fires that cause damage to property, injuries or fatalities, or which require fire department resources to suppress must be reported. Examples include:

Structure fires

  • Buildings
  • Piers
  • Decks and patios
  • Parkades and covered parking lots

Vehicle fires

  • Cars and trucks
  • Trains
  • Boats
  • Planes
  • All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) 
  • Recreational vehicles (RVs)

Outdoor fires

  • Dumpsters
  • Playground equipment
  • Telephone/Hydro poles
  • Grass
  • Bark mulch

For clarification on these definitions, contact the fire reporting officer at OFC@gov.bc.ca.

Reporting Timelines

Investigation into a fire must start within three days of the incident, excluding holidays. The fire must be reported immediately after an investigation is completed.

Reportable and non-reportable events

Reportable events

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

Examples include:

  • Outdoor dumpster fires
  • Fires that were extinguished before the fire department arrived, as firefighters will check for hotspots, determine the cause of the fire and report it
  • Unattended fires including 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.

Events that don't need to be reported

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

Examples 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
  • Explosions of ammunition, steam boilers, hot water tanks or other pressure vessels due to internal pressure not internal combustion

Exposure fires

An exposure fire is defined as a fire or damage that occurs as a direct consequence of another fire originating in a completely detached, segregated building, structure, facility, vehicle or outside open area.

Exposure fires require separate fire reports.

Glossary of terms

A casualty is each person who suffers a fire related injury or fatality.

A casualty fire report must be completed for each person who suffers a fire-related injury or fatality. The report is to be completed and submitted in conjunction with the related fire report. 

 

A fire is any instance of destructive and uncontrolled burning. Fire does not include the following, except where they cause fire or occur because of fire:

  1. Lightning or electrical discharge.
  2. Explosions of steam boilers, hot water tanks or other pressure vessels due to internal pressure and not to internal combustion.
  3. Explosions of ammunition or other detonating material.
  4. Accidents involving ships, aircraft, or other vehicles.
  5. Overheat condition. The alteration of material by heat without self-sustained combustion. Removal of the heat source will stop the alteration process. It may also be described as the stage before ignition. Examples include discoloration of a countertop caused by a hot cooking pot or browning of a wall surface by heat from a free-standing space heater or an adjacent flue pipe.

Property loss by fire is the cost of actual damages to property. Only direct losses from fire, smoke or damages associated with firefighting operations are to be included. Costs of “good will” or loss of sales and other losses due to interruption of a business or vacating a home are specifically and strictly excluded.

Damages to or destruction of buildings and installed equipment and contents are estimated and reported at their replacement value.

This refers to the estimated cash value of the property, including its contents. It doesn't include the value of the land that the structure resides on.

 


Fire reporting manual

The manual provides information needed to meet fire reporting requirements under the Fire Services Act by providing:

  • Guidance in entering required information on fire incidents
  • Data codes for fire loss reporting
  • Location codes for reporting within a jurisdiction

Manual:


Fire reporting forms and location codes

To complete your report, we provide PDF forms with accompanying instructions, location code directories and a breakdown of the code structure with definitions.

Reporting forms and instructions

Additional names form

Casualty form

Product/equipment form

Outdoor fire form

Person form

Structure form

Vehicle form

Youth Firesetter form

Location code directories


Insurance companies

Insurance companies must report every fire in which they are insurers. Reports may be sent directly to the Office of the Fire Commissioner or through an adjuster. All fires need to be reported regardless of minimum dollar value.