The Fire Inspector Says That We Need A Fire Safety Plan


The Fire Inspector Says That We Need A Fire Safety Plan

Why Do We Need A Fire Safety Plan?

Why Do We Need A Fire Safety Plan?


The intention of a great Fire Safety Plan is to drastically limit the probability that:

  • Emergency responders will not be notified of a fire emergency.
  • Emergency responders will be delayed in carrying out their duties.
  • Designated supervisory staff will not be appointed and organized to respond to fire emergencies.
  • Instructions, including schematic diagrams, describing the type, location and operation of building fire emergency systems will not be established.

This is to limit the probability of delays or ineffectiveness in conducting firefighting operations, which could lead to the spread of fire that could lead to the damage of your property.


Do You Have An Owner's Manual?

Do You Have An Owner's Manual?


Does your building come equipped with an Owner's Manual that spells out your specific legal responsibilities for the ongoing protection of life and your property?

The British Columbia Fire Code outlines technical provisions regulating:

  • Activities related to the construction, use or demolition of buildings an facilities.
  • The condition of specific elements of buildings and facilities.
  • The design or construction of specific elements of facilities related to certain hazards.
  • Protection measures for the current or intended use of buildings.
  • Fire Safety Planning for ongoing life and property safety.

What Is An Owner's Manual?

What Is An Owner's Manual?


We commonly know that an ‘owner's manual’ (also called an instruction manual) is an instructional book or booklet that is supplied with almost all technologically advanced consumer products such as vehicles, home appliances and computer peripherals. Information contained in the owner's manual typically includes:

  • Safety Instructions: for liability reasons these can be extensive, often including warnings against doing things that no intelligent person would consider doing.
  • Assembly Instructions: for products that arrive in pieces for easier shipping.
  • Installation Instructions: for productions that need to be installed in a home or workplace.
  • Setup Instructions: for devices that keep track of time or which maintain user accessible state.
  • Normal Usage Instructions.
  • Maintenance Instructions.
  • Troubleshooting Instructions.
  • Service requirements by a qualified contractor or technician.
  • Regulatory Code compliance information.
  • Product specifications.

Wouldn't it be nice if your building was provided with a Fire/Life Safety & Protection Owner’s Manual?

A Fire Safety Plan IS that “Owner’s Manual” specially designed for the building owner and/or occupant(s) to identify legal responsibilities and activities necessary for the protection of life and property specific to the building and its use. 


What Buildings Require A Fire Safety Plan?

What Buildings Require A Fire Safety Plan?


The BC Fire Code specifies when a Fire Safety Plan is required. A Fire Safety Plan is required in buildings having inherent life safety risks:

Assembly Use

(Places where people gather such as schools, restaurants, churches, meeting halls, theatres, community centres).

  • Occupant load is large.
  • Occupants are not necessairly familiar with the building.
  • Supervisory staff need to be trained in fire prevention and evacuation procedures.

A Fire Alarm System

  • The fire alarm system is designed to provide early warning of a fire.
  • Occupants are not necessarily familiar with the building.
  • Supervisory staff need to be trained in fire prevention and evacuation procedures.

Care, Treatment or Detention Uses

  • Occupants are limited in their ability for self-preservation and under some degree of restraint.
  • Supervisory staff need to be trained in fire prevention and evacuation procedures.

Areas Of Buildings Under Demolition and/or Construction

  • Building protective systems are incomplete or temporarily out of service.
  • Demolition or construction fuel loads are high.
  • Sources of fire ignition are plentiful.
  • Fire rated separations are incomplete and may contribute to rapid fire spread.
  • Exits may be compromised or incomplete.
  • Supervisory staff need to be trained in fire prevention and evacuation procedures.

Warehouse Storage

  • Fuel loads in storage may not necessarily match the ability of the building or built-in protective systems to provide adequate and minimum acceptable protection.
  • Supervisory staff need to be trained in managing the fuel load limits, fire prevention and evacuation procedures.

Areas Where Flammable or Combustible Liquids Are Stored or Handled

  • Flammable and/or combustible liquids are regulated by the BC Fire Code and quite possibly local jurisdiction fire bylaws. Permits to store, handle or use may be regulated by the local permit.
  • Supervisory staff need to be trained in managing the fuel load limits, fire prevention and evacuation procedures.

Areas Where Hazardous Processes or Operations Occur

(Examples: hot work, spray painting, coating or dipping operations, woodworking or other operations creating combustible dusts, laboratory, dry cleaning operations, industrial baking and drying processes).

  • The hazardous processes or operations are regulated by the BC Fire Code and in some cases, by the BC Building Code and may require specific local permits.
  • Supervisory staff need to be trained in managing the hazardous processes or operations, fire prevention and evacuation procedures.

A Fire Safety Plan may also be required as a condition of building design as part of an “Alternative Solution” to meet required Building and/or Fire Code Objectives.

  • A record of special building design parameters relative to building or life safety/protection may be required.

What Does A Fire Safety Plan Include?

What Does A Fire Safety Plan Include?


A Fire Safety Plan is a quick reference to help protect life and property under emergency conditions as well as day to day operations. Preparation of a custom Fire Safety Plan specific to a building includes:

  • An audit of resources, which will provide a detailed description and location of the fire and life safety equipment in the building, and operational instructions for fire protection equipment, which could include sprinkler systems, standpipe systems, fire protection water supplies, fire alarm systems, voice communication systems, special fire suppression systems, emergency power, fire service elevators, smoke control systems and fire/life safety alternative solutions.
  • Preparation and strategic posting of emergency procedures for building occupants to follow in a fire emergency, including the actions to be taken when the occupants cannot leave the building.
  • Instructions on how to control and confine a fire with the proper use of portable fire extinguishers or special protection systems.
  • Instructions on how to identify Fire Code violations - Specifics are provided on how to identify and handle fire hazards and fuel loads within the building.
  • The duties and the responsibilities of the building owner, owner’s authorized agent and supervisory staff.
  • Instructions for Fire Drills: Depending on the building and its use, fire drills must be held at a minimum frequency specified in the Fire Code. Instructions on how to conduct, record and evaluate a fire drill are included in the Fire Safety Plan.
  • Inspection, testing and maintenance requirements and checklists specific to the building and protective equipment.
  • Site drawings and floor plans, showing the location of all life safety and fire protection equipment, exits, building services rooms and shafts, location of hazardous materials and any other items deemed necessary by the 'Authority Having Jurisdiction'.

Can I Make A Fire Safety Plan Of My Own?

Can I Make A Fire Safety Plan Of My Own?



But, you will need to make sure that it contains absolutely everything that is required by the Fire Code, the local Fire Bylaw and fire department requirements.  You might be surprised at just how much time and skill this will take as well as how much information needs to be gathered!  

The Fire Department may charge a review fee AND additional fees for each subsequent revision where corrections are needed.


What About Training?

What About Training?


The Fire Code places a heavy reliance on buildings and business owners ensuring that persons are trained before they are given responsibilities where there are potential fire and life safety implications within the scope of the Fire Code.

In fact, the Fire Code makes 26 references in Parts 2 through 5, requiring persons being appropriately “trained” or having adequate “training” within. Robert Furlong Design Co. can provide hands-on training for the building owner, supervisory staff and selected building personnel to ensure your Fire Code compliance. 

Training can include:

  • Identification and mitigation of fire hazards.
  • Identification of required daily quick-checks to reduce the risk to life and property from fire.
  • Methods and techniques for inspections and testing as required by the Fire Code.
  • Record keeping needs to satisfy Fire Code requirements.
  • General fire and life safety/protection equipment operation.
  • Conducting and evaluating fire drills.

What Are Pre-Incident Plans?

What Are Pre-Incident Plans?


Pre-Fire Incident Planning is an important tool for emergency response.

Many fire departments are overloaded with regular daily activities and simply do not have sufficient time for this purpose. Fire Departments recognize that the owner’s customized Fire Safety Plan can be designed to include vitally important fire emergency response information in a form and format useable within the local Fire Department resources. 

Robert Furlong Design Co. can develop or upgrade Pre-Fire Incident Plans and/or build a pre-incident planning program tailored to the local fire department’s needs.


What About Fire Inspections?

What About Fire Inspections?


Generally, Municipal/City Councils are mandated under the Provincial Fire Services Act to provide a regular system of fire inspections. The fire inspections are conducted at a frequency that is determined by the Fire Department’s available resources and the degree of hazard or threat to life safety in each building.

Fire inspections are conducted to ensure compliance with the current BC Fire Code, to evaluate fire hazards and to determine ways to minimize danger to life safety and property. The fire inspection provides a “snapshot” of building fire safety, protection status and occupant fire readiness at the time of the inspection.

Can I just wait until the Fire Department tells me what to do?

It is NOT the responsibility of the person(s) conducting the fire inspection to catch every Fire Code violation. That responsibility belongs to the building and/or business owner or authorized agent to ensure completeness of Fire Code compliance (see Fire Code excerpt below).

The following is an excerpt from the British Columbia Fire Code:

Division C: Article Responsibility of the British Columbia Fire Code Regulations (BCFC) states that: "1) Unless otherwise specified, the owner or the owner's authorized agent shall be responsible for carrying out the provisions of this Code."

What does this mean for the owner?

First off, who is the owner? The "owner" may include the building owner, business owner and/or a Strata Corporation. This may also include the "owners" authorized agent, such as a property manager, that has been authorized to act on an owners behalf for fire safety and code requirements. 

The responsibility also includes an owner’s basic quick-check inspections of the building’s fire and life safety components or systems and those required to be conducted by qualified contractors. Adequately completed records of the required inspections, tests and maintenance as conducted by a qualified contractors or as “may” be permitted by the owner, needed to be readily available to the Fire Department for review upon request.

The Fire Department’s fire inspections also provide a means in which Fire Department personnel are able to familiarize themselves with the various buildings and uses within. This knowledge will assist fire fighters with Pre-Fire Incident specifics when responding to an incident. 

Robert Furlong Design Co. can provide assistance to the owner or owner’s authorized agent in gaining the knowledge and resources necessary to identify and correct any fire hazards noted within their building and ensure the installed fire safety equipment is in proper operationally ready working order.

Our primary vision for Robert Furlong Design Co. is to create solid long-term working relationships with the public and private sectors to reduce the fire risk to property and life safety.