Reportable Fire Guidelines

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. Examples 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) 
  • Recreational vehicles (RVs)*
  • 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

Under the Fire Services Act, Part 1, Section 9, 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.

Additional Information

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.

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.

An exposure fire is defined as a fire 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.

For clarification about exposure fires, contact the Fire Reporting officer at OFC@gov.bc.ca.

Casualty (Injury or Fatality)

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

A Casualty Fire Report (found on the Manual & Forms page) 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. 

Fire

A fire is defined as any instance of destructive and uncontrolled burning. Fire does not include the following, except where they cause fire or occur as a consequence 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 steam boilers, hot water tanks or other pressure vessels due to internal pressure and not to internal combustion
  4. Explosions of ammunition or other detonating material
  5. Accidents involving ships, aircraft, or other vehicles
  6. 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 counter top 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

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.

In accordance with Canadian insurance practices, damages to or destruction of buildings and installed equipment and contents are estimated and reported at their replacement value.

Property Value at Risk

Property Value at Risk refers to the estimated cash value of the property, including its contents.

This does not include the value of the land that the structure resides on.