Series GR-3568 - Building plan approvals and reviews

Title and statement of responsibility area

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Building plan approvals and reviews

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  • architectural drawing
  • technical drawing
  • textual record

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the contents of the series

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  • 1937 - 2000 (Creation)
    British Columbia. Office of the Fire Commissioner

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Physical description

152 m of architectural and technical drawings and textual material

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Biographical history

The Office of the Fire Commissioner (OFC) is the senior fire services advisory authority in British Columbia and is responsible for administering and enforcing the Fire Services Act. Under this legislation, the functions of the office are established, which includes: appointing local assistants to the Fire Commissioner throughout the province, overseeing an order and appeal process, and adopting the model National Fire Code into provincial regulation.

For the purpose of fire prevention and suppression, the duties of the fire commissioner include: investigating fires; collecting and disseminating information about fires; investigating conditions under which fires are likely to occur; studying methods of fire prevention; consulting with and giving information and advice to fire chiefs and fire departments; establishing minimum standards for selection and training of fire services personnel; and giving advice and recommendations on the establishment of fire departments.

The OFC also gives advice and recommendations on matters including: provision of adequate water supplies; installation and maintenance of fire alarm systems and fire extinguishing equipment; enacting and enforcing municipal bylaws for fire prevention and protection; and the planning of municipal areas to protect against fire.

As of 2017, the OFC operates with the following regional offices: Vancouver Island (Victoria), Lower Mainland (Victoria), South East (Nelson), Thompson Okanagan (Kamloops), Northern (Prince George).

The office originated with its predecessor, the Office of the Fire Marshal, established by the Fire Marshal Act (“An Act respecting Fires and Fire-escapes”), approved November 9, 1921, in force January 1, 1922. The name of the Office of the Fire Marshal was changed on January 31, 1979 to Office of the Fire Commissioner.

Throughout its history, the functions of the Fire Marshal’s office included conducting building inspections; making orders to remove hazards; documenting appeals from orders; investigating fires and their causes; and compiling statistics and making annual reports. These reports included data on loss of life, total value of property damage, and the identification of fires by type. Other functions of the office included an educational role with regard to fire hazards and fire safety.

In 1926, regulations under the Moving-picture Theatres Act enabled the Fire Marshal to administer inspections and order changes to unsafe conditions in theatres. This included the requirement for the Fire Marshall to approve theatre equipment and check on the physical condition of all films in the province, with hazardous films being removed from circulation.

The functions of the Office of Fire Commissioner and its predecessor were not related with those of the Chief Fire Warden, who was appointed under the provisions of the Forest Fires Prevention Act.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The series consists of records dating from 1937 to 2000, relating to the approval of building plans, as required by the Fire Services Act and pursuant regulations.

The records document the functions and activities of the Fire Commissioner’s office, including fire prevention measures and practices of the time. The plans and related correspondence also document the history of buildings which have played a significant role in the life of communities throughout the province.

Prior to 16 October 1992 plans were required for a wide array of building types. After that date, submission of plans to the Fire Commissioner was only required for licensed beverage establishments and bulk plants. Plans include those for proposed all-new construction and for proposed alterations and additions to structures.

Records include various types of architectural and technical drawings, including blueprints, and the correspondence and other textual records related to the building in question (a “case file).” The drawings include site plans, floor plans, and technical drawings such as those of alarm systems and emergency lighting. Typically, the files contain the plan(s), correspondence from the architect that has submitted plans, and a copy of outgoing correspondence, typically a letter granting approval.

Most of the records were ordered according to a classification system which included a number and a letter, with the letter signifying a type of structure, as follows:

A = Public halls
B = Recreational buildings
C = Schools and colleges
D = Bulk fuel plants
E = Theatres
F = Hospitals and seniors care facilities
G = Buildings (various types, including apartment buildings)
H = Miscellaneous
I = Indian schools
J = Alarm and emergency systems

The majority of the records date from prior to the name change in 1979 from Fire Marshall to Fire Commissioner. Creator offices of the records include five different regional offices: Vancouver Island, Vancouver/Fraser, Northern, Interior, and Kootenay.

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Transferred in 14 accessions by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure on 2016-10-20. In addition to the Office of the Fire Commissioner, records were received from other offices of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure including: Kamloops Fire Service Advisor (Interior), Cranbrook Fire Service Advisor (Kootenays), and Fire Safety.


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Restrictions on access

No access restrictions apply

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Copyright belongs to the Government of British Columbia. Contact BC Archives staff for terms governing use, reproduction and publication

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Further accruals are expected

General note

Accession numbers: 91-9140; 91-9141; 92-4753; 92-4754; 92-4808; 92-4904; 92-5304; 92-5305; 92-7631; 93-1012; 93-2198; 93-2987; 93-9928; 94-1831

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