Fire Service Minimum Standards | SPSA

Fire Service Minimum Standards Guide

The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA) released the Fire Service Minimum Standards Guide in May 2022. The guide was created by the SPSA, in consultation with the Saskatchewan Association of Fire Chiefs, the Saskatchewan Volunteer Fire Fighters Association, and the Provincial Training Standards Committee, with a focus on making firefighting safer in Saskatchewan by developing a written set of minimum standards for three levels of service, based on training and equipment capacities. 

The new guidelines will help departments and associations ensure they continue to respond to fire events based on their communities’ specific needs. 

Engagement between municipal leaders and fire chiefs is critical for this program. The first phase includes a 16-month assessment and declaration period. This will require coordination between municipal elected officials and their fire service to determine the appropriate service level for their community. Service Level options are:

• Defensive
• Offensive
• Full Operations 

Wildfire and Grassland firefighting is considered an additional Service Level option that can stand alone or be combined with any of the three formal firefighting Service Levels listed above. 

Participation by fire services is not mandatory. 

Fire Service Minimum Standards Guide

Fire Service Minimum Standards Guide Frequently Asked Questions


Why is the SPSA implementing this program?

The executive from the Saskatchewan Association of Fire Chiefs (SAFC) and the Saskatchewan Volunteer Fire Fighters Association (SVFFA) wrote a position paper entitled “Guidelines for the Provincial Levels of Fire Fighting Standards and Community Declaration of Service” and submitted it to the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA) in April 2020. In the paper, both expert groups strongly advocated for the implementation of provincial service levels for the fire service.
The SPSA concurred with the concept of establishing service levels and began the development process.

What areas of the fire service do the Minimum Standards Guide cover?

The guidelines are primarily focused on basic firefighting skills.

The SPSA expects future additions to the guidelines will include other types of emergency responses, such as auto extrication standards as well as community fire prevention and mitigation activities.

Do any other provinces have programs like this?

Yes. All provinces in western Canada as well as the Yukon and Ontario have a minimum standards program for their fire services. The SPSA has worked closely with the SVFFA and the SAFC to build a ‘Made in Saskatchewan’ program using parts of the British Columbia and Manitoba programs.

How does this program increase safety in Saskatchewan?

Comprehensive training programs ensure firefighters have the skills needed for safer and more efficient response.

The guidelines also enhance coordination between elected officials and the fire department by providing an opportunity:

• For coordination and fiscal planning to ensure firefighters have the training and type of equipment they need for their service level.
• To provide guidance on equipment maintenance.
• Increased job satisfaction for firefighters is expected with the standardization of training, equipment and clarity of roles and responsibilities.

Does the Fire Commissioner have the authority to implement this program?

Yes. Authority for this program is provided in Part II, Section 6 and Section 17 of
The Fire Safety Act.
 
What process was used to develop the Minimum Standards Guide?

After receiving the position paper from the SVFFA and SAFC in April 2020, the
Agency announced the formation of a working committee in May 2020 to:

• Confirm if introducing minimum standards into the Saskatchewan fire service was needed; and
• Build the program in coordination with experts in the fire service based on models from other successful programs in Canada.

Once a working draft was created by the committee, it was approved by the SPSA.  Consultations occurred between January and April 2022. To date, the SPSA has provided information to, and received feedback from, the following organizations:

• SUMA Executive
• SARM Executive
• SAFC Executive
• SVFFA Executive
• Fire Chiefs and firefighters who have attended their SAFC/SVFFA Region and
   Zone meetings
• Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI)
• Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety

How and when were Fire Chiefs and council/municipal administrators made aware of this program?

The SPSA presented on the minimum standards at SVFFA and SAFC zone/region meetings between January and April 2022. Some zones and regions did not want or were not able to schedule meetings with their members.

The Fire Commissioner announced the launch of the first phase for assessment and declaration during the SAFC Convention in May 2022. 

Letters were sent to municipal administrators and Fire Chiefs in early May 2022, announcing the program and the assessment and declaration phase.

Is this program mandatory?

No. This program is not mandatory. However, every community is required, under Section 17 of The Fire Safety Act, to submit their Declaration Form no later than October 31, 2023. 

Communities who decide not to participate in the program can indicate that decision on the Declaration Form. Once the SPSA receives the Declaration Form indicating non-participation, the Fire Commissioner will send a letter to the local authority acknowledging their decision. 

If the Fire Chief and the elected officials later change their minds and decide to participate, they may begin their assessment process and submit their Declaration Form to the SPSA at any time. 

How does my community/fire department or association declare a service level?

There are five steps involved in declaring a level of service, which are listed below. Appendix A of the Fire Service Minimum Standards Guide outlines the action items associated with each of these steps. The Guide is available on saskpublicsafety.ca

Step 1 - Fire Chief reviews the Minimum Standards document
Step 2 - Fire Chief and council meet to discuss proposed service level
Step 3 - Checklist is completed by the Fire Chief
Step 4 - Fire Chief and council complete and approve Declaration of Service Form 
Step 5 - Declaration of Service Form is submitted to the SPSA

What is the process for future capital budget items? Can we be at one service level now and upon receiving the equipment we need, change to a different service level down the road?

Yes. If the fire department has identified outstanding training or equipment needs to reach a desired service level, the Fire Chief and council can complete their Declaration of Service Form during the 16-month assessment phase and change their declared service level at any time. A new form will need to be completed and submitted to the SPSA for any changes to a fire department’s declared service level. 

If a fire department has identified outstanding training or equipment needs that require a longer timeline to obtain or implement, the Fire Chief may use the Declaration Form to identify what is needed to achieve the desired Level of Service. The timeline selected to achieve a desired Level of Service will be unique to each community.

Is the SPSA providing funding for training or equipment in order for fire departments or associations to meet minimum standards?

No. Not at this time.

Is the funding from SGI for auto extrication training and equipment also available for the training and equipment related to these standards and the Service levels?

No. The funding announcement made by SGI in mid-April 2022 is targeted solely to auto extrication training and equipment. Although auto extrication minimum standards are expected to become part of the Fire Service Minimum Standards Guide at some point, the two programs are separate at this time. 

Where can I find more information on the Fire Service Minimum Standards Guide?

Municipal officials and Fire Chiefs have access to the guide and background material, including the self-assessment and declaration forms. You can access the guide at
Fire Service Minimum Standards Guide

Who can I contact for more information?

To obtain additional details, fire departments are advised to reach out to the Saskatchewan Association of Fire Chiefs (SAFC) at presidentsafc@gmail.com or
the Saskatchewan Volunteer Fire Fighters Association (SVFFA) at president@svffa.ca.

If you wish to get in touch with the staff at the SPSA, please email spsa@gov.sk.ca.

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