Challenges with the Existing Indigenous Fire Service

Apr 1, 2019 | Past Events


  • Formula Funding – No guarantee that funding is adequate to address the fire service needs and does not prevent funding from being re-directed.
  • ISC Regional Disparity – No consistent region-to-region funding, delivery of service, or support for Indigenous organizations.

Indigenous Fire Service Standards

The lack of standards results in less effective fire service and community protection.

  • Training – Indigenous fire services continue to be asked to assume responsibility for departments and community safety with limited training and experience to adequately perform their duties and to mitigate community risks in the absence of national standards.
  • Equipment – Inadequate funding, expertise, and training that hinders the adoption fire service equipment standards.
  • Building & Fire Codes – With the exception of
    Indigenous communities, all other jurisdictions including provinces, territories, and other federal jurisdictions (military bases, airports, and seaports) have established building and fire codes. These are usually identified through fire protection acts and serve to ensure that infrastructure is built (building codes) and maintained (fire codes) to established standards. Beyond safety, building and fire codes support capital assets meeting their expected lifespan.
  • Fire Prevention & Education – No national standards for the delivery of fire prevention or public education.

Firefighter Safety (Occupational Health & Safety)

  • Worker Protection – Most Indigenous fire services can purchase occupational health and safety coverage from provincial agencies but these agencies will not enforce the regulations.
  • Incident Reporting and Reviews – Indigenous communities who subscribe to occupational health and safety coverage are only voluntarily encouraged to meet these obligations.

Recruitment & Retention

  • Volunteer Recruitment – The majority of Indigenous fire service is voluntary, with limited resources to offer paid on call, composite, or honorariums to address the international decline in volunteerism. Unlike other community-based volunteer opportunities, volunteering in the fire service requires extensive training and certification, time commitments, and elements of personal risk and sacrifice.

Infrastructure Development

  • New Building Engineering Services – Centralized services without adequate on-site evaluation of how the development fits within existing community infrastructure are a common problem.
  • Pre-plan Examination – Often no verification that fire safety issues are identified/met in the building of new infrastructure.

Inspection, Investigations & Reporting

These serve to protect infrastructure and address failures
within the system.

  • Inspections – The lack of codes means any inspection would lack enforcement to ensure safety requirements are met.
  • Investigations – There is a lack of trained resources
    to do investigations and/or statutory authority
    for investigations.
  • National Fire Incident Reporting – Indigenous communities do not have the funding and infrastructure to collect fire incident data or the ability to use the data for the research or development of fire prevention programs.


  • Home and Infrastructure Insurance – Most Indigenous communities cannot meet the fire standards for obtaining reasonable and affordable fire insurance.

Municipal Type Service Agreements (MTSA)

  • MTSA – Typically only cover fire suppression activity even if the contracted fire departments can provide fire prevention and public education services.

Fire Marshal Office

  • Indigenous Fire Marshal Office – Provinces, territories, and the Department of National Defence all have established fire marshal/fire commissioner offices to support community fire safety.