Legal authority to enter under the Fire Services Act

Legislation gives specific roles permission to enter at all times and to exclude individuals from a location where a fire has occurred.

Legislation to enter and exclude

Section 10 of the Fire Services Act gives the local assistant to the fire commissioner (LAFC), the fire commissioner and the fire commissioner’s inspectors the authority to enter at all times 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 10 also gives those listed, authority to exclude (keep from entering) a person from the building, premises, motor vehicle, vessel or rolling stock where a fire has occurred.

In some cases where a fire has not occurred, the consent of an occupier of a private dwelling will be required.

Investigation and criminal activity

The purpose of the fire investigation, conducted under the Fire Services Act (FSA), is to establish the cause, origin and circumstances of the fire only (FSA section 9). This does not give the LAFC, the fire commissioner or the fire commissioner’s inspectors any authority to determine or investigate criminal activity.

If criminal activity is suspected, the local police of jurisdiction must be contacted immediately by the person investigating the fire to:

  • Maintain proper legal procedure during the continued investigation
  • Ensure that a reasonable search or seizure is conducted

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