Series GR-3572 - General office files of the Fire Commissioner

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General office files of the Fire Commissioner

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  • textual record
  • graphic material
  • architectural drawing

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

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  • 1922-2000; predominant 1970-2000 (Creation)
    British Columbia. Office of the Fire Commissioner

Physical description area

Physical description

20.7 m of textual material, photographs, and architectural drawings

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Archival description area

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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 administrative and operational records that document and support the functions and activities of the Office of the Fire Commissioner (OFC) in improving the effectiveness, efficiency, and accountability of municipal fire services in British Columbia. The Office of the Fire Commissioner is the senior fire services advisory authority in British Columbia and is responsible for administering the Fire Services Act and the BC Fire Code. The OFC is located in Victoria, and there are five regional offices: Vancouver Island (Victoria); Lower Mainland (Victoria); South East (Nelson); Thompson Okanagan (Kamloops); and Northern (Prince George). The records in this series come primarily from the OFC, however many also come from the regional offices.

The subject matter of the records includes: the training, certification, and recognition of firefighters; participation in national and provincial firefighter associations and conferences; emergency and disaster planning; hazard identification, regulation and enforcement; the standardization and safety testing of firefighting equipment and material; and fire protection surveys of municipal fire departments. Additionally, there are some records relating to building plan approvals and reviews (GR-3568), fire investigations (GR-3575), fire safety appeals (GR-3576), and fire safety inspections (GR-3577), however most of these records can be found in the aforementioned GR series descriptions.

The series is comprised of both operational and administrative records. The archivist has maintained the original order of these records, which includes interfiling of operational and administrative records. Generally, the administrative records relate to committees and councils, participation in national and international associations, standards, legislation and regulations (the BC Fire Code and Fire Services Act in particular), and the production of the newsletter, “Infiremation.”

The operational records fall under the classifications defined in the Operational Records Classification System (ORCS) for the Office of the Fire Commissioner (schedule 116756). These are listed below, with the corresponding number from a previous ORCS provided in parentheses. It is often the previous ORCS number which has been used as a file code, and can help the user quickly identify the general nature of the file. When relevant, the GR series has also been provided in parentheses.

  • 80000 (10000) Office of the Fire Commissioner - General
  • 80050 (unknown) Fire Service Information System
  • 80100 (11000) Fire safety appeals (GR-3576)
  • 80200 (12000) Fire service award
  • 80300 (13000) Fire investigations (GR-3575)
  • 80400 (14000) Fire safety inspection (GR-3577)
  • 80500 (15000) Fire fighting equipment
  • 80600 Hazardous material – general: Compressed gases (16000) and Flammable and combustible liquids (17000)
  • 80800 (18000) Solid fuel burning appliances and equipment
  • 80900 (unknown) Equipment testing approval
  • 81000 (20000) Fire protection surveys
  • 81100 (21000) Building plan approvals (GR-3568)

This series is comprised of several different accessions. In some cases, a single accession is comprised of both operational records and administrative records, arranged chronologically. However, in some cases, an accession may be comprised of a single type of record (e.g. fire protection surveys). As a result, the series itself is not arranged in any particular way, but the container numbers in the left-hand column, as well as the file code number may provide some insight to the arrangement and organization of records. Original order of the records has been maintained.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

British Columbia. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure in 2016.


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Restrictions on access

These records are subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and some records in this series are restricted under this act. Please contact the BC Archives to determine the access status of particular records in this series.

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General note

Accession number(s): 90-1101, 91-1053, 91-1113, 91-3512, 91-7271, 91-8379m 81-8458, 92-1623, 92-4628, 92-4629, 92-4671, 92-4672, 92-6169, 92-6171, 92-8458, 93-0762, 93-1002, 93-1003

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