Consent to Enter
Consent to Enter a Private Dwelling
The authority for the Fire Commissioner (FC), the inspectors in the Fire Commissioner’s Office (IFCO), and local assistants to the Fire Commissioner (LAFC), to enter and inspect private dwellings is authorized in:
- Section 3 of the 2012 BC Fire Code and
- Section 10 of the Fire Services Act (FSA).
Section 3(2) of the BC Fire Code expressly states that entry into a “place” occupied as a private dwelling requires the consent of the occupier.
A consent form should be presented to an occupier of a private dwelling whenever the FC, IFCO, or LAFC request entry of the occupier’s private dwelling for inspection purposes pursuant to Section 3(2) of the BCFC.
Section 10 of the FSA provides authority for the FC, IFCO, or LAFC to enter a private dwelling but only if a fire has occurred. Legally, written consent is likely not required, but if an owner/occupier is available at the time of entry and the circumstance is such that it is reasonable to request consent, it would be good practice for the FC, IFCO, or LAFC to ask the occupier to sign a consent form.
If a “place” is not occupied due to fire, consent is not needed to be obtained by the FC, IFCO, or LAFC.
Although the above information applies to the FSA and BC Fire Code, occupants of private dwellings must also be aware that some local governments may have bylaws that provide authority for their fire department officials to enter private dwellings under certain conditions, such as: 24 hour written notice or under the authority of a warrant. The fire department officials should be able to provide the occupant with the necessary documents that explain the authorization that allows them to enter the occupant’s private dwelling.