Niagara Region MOU Targets Arson Prevention

Niagara Region MOU Targets Arson Prevention

February 21, 2012

Arson fires affect every community in Ontario. In Niagara Region, these fires contribute to significant dollar loss and sometimes injury for community residents, and first responders who are called to these fire scenes. To combat arson, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was initiated in Niagara Region to facilitate better information sharing among agencies about their investigations and more effectively prosecute offenders.

This MOU is unique given the number of partners involved. It recognizes the collective commitment by the fire departments in Niagara Region, the Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS) and the Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) to join forces and prevent arson in the Niagara Region.

Partnerships are Important

The purpose of the MOU is to clarify the respective roles and responsibilities of the NRPS, OFM and fire departments in Niagara Region in relation to fire/explosion investigations that require the involvement of all three organizations. Some of the key highlights of the MOU include:

  • Promoting the identification and preservation of evidence for documentation at suspicious and criminal fire scenes for the purposes of prosecution.
  • The creation of a database by the NRPS and fire services of the Region of Niagara to track fires. The database will help to identify patterns such as serial arsons, potential fire crimes and/or fire safety issues.
  • At the conclusion of a fire investigation, municipal fire departments shall ensure that vacant buildings will be secured from further fires and inhabitation, in accordance with Article 2.4.7.1. of the Ontario Fire Code.
  • Streamlining the sharing of reports and information between all three partners and the release of information with respect to freedom of information and privacy legislation.

In 2003, the Niagara Region Fire Chiefs Association formed a sub-committee called the Arson Niagara Committee. The sub-committee included representatives from fire departments in Niagara Region, NRPS, OFM and insurance investigators. The Committee has been responsible for fostering key public-private partnerships for the delivery of certification training programs and promoting the adoption of National Fire Protection Association’s 921 Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations as a standardized pre-requisite course for local investigators. The Committee has also steered the development and implementation of a Niagara Regional TAPP-C Protocol, a program that targets youth fire-setting through education and intervention. The MOU is a product of their work together in establishing an effective team approach with regard to the awareness and investigation of arson fires in Niagara.

The Fire Services of the Region of Niagara are represented by Fort Erie Fire Department, Grimsby Fire Department, Lincoln Fire Rescue & Emergency Services, Niagara Falls Fire Department, Niagara-on-the-Lake Fire & Emergency Services, Pelham Fire Services, Port Colborne Fire & Emergency Services, St. Catharines Fire & Emergency Management Services, Thorold Fire & Emergency Services, Wainfleet Fire & Emergency Services, Welland Fire & Emergency Services and West Lincoln Fire Department.

Contacts

  • Carol Gravelle, Office of the Fire Marshal, 416 325-3138