New Fire Code compliance rules expected to increase safety

High-risk facilities are now being asked to provide documentation of fire code compliance.

The provincial government has a new plan to improve fire code compliance for high-risk facilities across British Columbia.

Building owners and employers are responsible for fire code compliance in British Columbia, but in the interests of long-term safety for workers, the government will now be asking high-risk facility owners to provide documentation of fire code compliance.

“This is in response to a lot of the mill fires that have happened in the province in the past year,” said Golden Fire Chief Ken McClure. “This is an additional onus put on high-hazard industry locations.”

In Golden there are four such high-hazard industry locations says McClure.

In the course of regularly scheduled and/or targeted inspections, WorkSafeBC will be requesting all building owners to provide documentation related to fire code compliance. The BC Safety Authority (BCSA) will request documentation of fire code compliance when performing on-site inspections of regulated equipment installation.

Under the Fire Services Act, municipalities are assigned responsibility for Fire Code inspections. The Golden Fire Department has, and will continue to conduct these inspections.

To assist, Ministers Pat Bell (Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training) and Shirley Bond (Minister of Justice and Attorney General) introduced the creation of the Fire Inspection and Prevention Initiative (FIPI). Through FIPI, WorkSafeBC will invest $1 million in funding over two years to reduce the risk fire presents to workers in industrial operations and to improve compliance.

FIPI will improve awareness of employers’ fire safety obligations and education about the BC Fire Code standards. It will also increase co-operation and communication between WorkSafeBC, BCSA inspectors and the Office of the Fire Commissioner (OFC).

“The Fire Services Act requires that we respond to reports of non-complance of the Fire Code. With the creation of FIPI, there will be better information sharing that will allow us to continue to respond and impose penalties or remedies as necessary. We are hopeful that companies take proactive action to comply and mitigate these safety risks, but if it becomes clear that punitive action is necessary, the OFC can and will impose it,” said Kelly Gilday, debuty B.C. fire commissioner.

“It’s going to be an interesting tool, and I’m hopeful that it will be effective,” said McClure.

The B.C. government expects these enhance fire code compliance efforts will improve health and safety for workers in B.C. and provide more clarity about the accountability of industrial owners and operators and how they must meet BC Fire Code standards.