Legal Authority to Enter Under the Fire Services Act
Legislation to Enter & Exclude
Section 10 of the Fire Services Act gives the local assistant (a Local Assistant to the Fire Commissioner (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 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.
Section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (CCRF) states: "Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.
In some cases where a fire has not occurred, the consent of an occupier of a private dwelling may be required. For more information see the Consent to Enter a Private Dwelling information bulletin.
Investigation & Criminal Activity
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). 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 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)
If a fire appears to be of suspicious origin (Section FSA 13), the LAFC must immediately make a preliminary report to the fire commissioner.
For more information about this, contact the Office of the Fire Commissioner.