Ticketing – Laying of Charges in relation to Structure Fires

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HOME Forums Forums Fire Code & Enforcement Ticketing – Laying of Charges in relation to Structure Fires


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    • #11016
      Mathew WilliamsonMathew Williamson

      Hi All,

      Burlington is looking to see what other departments are doing (or not doing) with regard to smoke – CO alarm non-compliance and especially in relation to post fire incident.  In following past ‘zero tolerance’ messaging by the OFM we had more or less enforced on every fire incident either by provincial offences notice (e.g. a ticket) (homeowner) or Part III (landlord) for circumstances where smoke alarm(s) were found removed, non-functional or otherwise.  We had not addressed CO or expired devices except through education.

      Any information as to what your respective departments practise or procedure would be greatly appreciated.


      Mat Williamson

      Fire Prevention Inspector

      Assistant to the Fire Marshal

      City of Burlington-Fire Department

      1255 Fairview Street, Burlington ON L7S 1Y3


      905-637-8207 Ext. 6323

      905-333-1570 (Fax)




    • #11017
      Joseph GardinerJoseph Gardiner

      Hello Mathew,

      Fire prevention personnel in North Bay generally issue s & c/o alarm tickets post fire although it is left up to the discretion of the fire prevention officer. Some of our people will only charge by way of part 1 even if it is the owner.

      Joe Gardiner

    • #11045
      Douglas HollandDouglas Holland


      In Muskoka Lakes we have done both, we charged a landlord for failing to install both Smoke and CO alarms. Furthermore, we have also ticketed a tenant for disabling a smoke alarm post-fire investigation.

    • #12735
      Michael BurnsMichael Burns

      Not sure if this has been resolved, but thought I would chime in.

      This topic was covered in the fire investigation program offered at Laurentian University, (the program was cancelled this past year).
      I would review this with the OFMEM and your legal counsel, as there may be differing opinions. Specifically, I would ask about “predominant purpose” and regulatory inspections. Why did you originally enter the structure? If the initial entry into the structure was for an investigation. Then under the FPPA, Section 14(2) allows the investigator to take photographs for the purposes of cause. This means you cannot take photographs of code deficiencies, or no-working smoke alarms, unless these pertain specifically to the cause of the fire. (Note that I haven’t reviewed if there have been any revisions to the FPPA since I took the course last year. So my reference may be off and the section may have been revised, but I doubt it. The instructor was Chris Williams formerly with OFMEM.) The way we discussed it was that, in the ideal world, the investigator conducts an investigation into the origin, cause and circumstances of the fire. A second, and separate inspector can enter, under whatever authority they may need to, ie. entry warrant, consent, whatever. If you, as the investigator notice a violation and subsequently charge the offender, the evidence may be thrown out as you didn’t have legal authority to enter the premises for inspection: you entered to investigate the cause of the fire. In addition, you may be violating their charter rights.

      If it was me, I would approach OFMEM and legal counsel to obtain their opinions on the current state of affairs.

      If you decide to research predominant purpose, add in regulatory inspections as well. This should bring up relevant topics and issues as predominant purpose also other legal meaning.

      Let me know if you need anything and I can try dig up any other information I may have. But your legal counsel and OFMEM would be better. As an FYI. I’m in Saskatchewan. Not to muddy the waters, but I asked our legal counsel and they said, no. Predominant purpose does not apply. But it’s a different province.


    • #12769

      i don’t believe the term “origin, cause and determination” gets used as much anymore, when i received my fire investigator training we were taught its the “cause origin and circumstances regarding a fire”, i believe this wording allows you a little more wiggle room when it comes to noting things like code deficiencies. any time i’ve worked with an investigator from the OFM, they do spend quite a bit of time finding smoke alarms and performing testing to see if they were functional at a fire, if the dept was unwilling to pursue any charges, they will and have contacted someone at inspections and enforcement branch and will have someone come down and pursue charges, as investigators are not delegated as an assistant to the fire marshal

    • #12772
      John WilsonJohn Wilson

      It is my understanding that we have never issued a single charge or ticket, post fire or not. We have no formal policy on it, more of the informal approach of ‘we’re a small town and don’t need to rub salt in the wound’. Personally, I have a different opinion but am not good at politics either…

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