Fire Inspection Documentation

By Don Epp, SARC Facility Planner

Did You Know?:

Group home, group living homes, and approved private service home operators are required to renew their licensing agreement with the Ministry of Social Services annually. These licensing agreements, as outlined in the Residential-services Facilities Regulations, requires a letter of approval from the local assistant to the Fire Commissioner. Specifically, the letter “advises the structure, equipment and maintenance of the residential-service facility are satisfactory” in concordance with the meaning of The Fire Prevention Act.

How It Works:

Usually, the local fire inspector writes this letter after an inspection. According to the Act 

 “A fire inspector may aid in the enforcement of any Act, regulation and municipal bylaw relating to fire safety and fire prevention”, which defines their general authority.

The Fire Inspector will require further inspection(s) in the event of any deficiencies. Additional inspections may be required to confirm previous deficiencies have been properly addressed. Additionally, an increase in the number of occupants in care may require an additional fire inspection.

Fire inspectors will ask for inspection records to show the home complies with the latest fire codes in terms of fire safety and prevention. The operator of the home is required to show the inspector their records during an inspection. The inspection record must include the following:

  • The location of the device or item tested or inspected.
  • Pass or fail rating of the item inspected and any follow-up that is required.
  • The date of the test.
  • The name of the person completing the test.

Records must be kept for approximately 3 years. These records include inspections and tests on the following life safety equipment and protocol:

Smoke Alarms:

Inspect and ensure each device is securely attached to the wall or ceiling with no obstructions around the smoke alarm.

Important: When one device sounds, every device in the house will should sound (if they are interconnected).  If no sound is heard then corrective action is needed.

When to test:


  • Test each device by pushing the test button. Each device should sound in accordance with other interconnected devices.
  • Homes with an additional heat detector in the furnace room should be tested along with smoke alarms.


  • Vacuum the exterior of each device and then test with smoke (an aerosol spray designed specifically for testing smoke alarms).
  • Check battery clips and ensure the battery is secure and there is no corrosion on the battery clips.
  • Ensure the battery is the type recommended by the manufacturer. 

Carbon Monoxide Alarms:

When to test:


  • Test as per manufacturer’s recommendations (if combined with smoke alarm follow the inspection protocol above).
  • Maintain in good operating order – as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Important: Smoke and CO alarms must be replaced every 10 years. Often there is a date on the device that recommends when the device needs replacement.

Emergency Lights:

Maintain in good operating condition and inspect.

When to test:


  • Test the lights for operation for 30 seconds. (Push and hold the “push for test” button for 30 seconds). If a light does not operate or the lights dim quickly then a repair is needed (often a new lamp or new battery will suffice).
  • Inspect the battery and make sure the terminals are clean and ensure the battery has not leaked.
  • Lights will turn on when the power source is disconnected (simulated power failure). Unplug the unit, or turn off the electrical breaker for the emergency lights.


  • Test emergency lighting unit by simulating a power outage for 30 minutes (unplug or turn off the breaker). Lights must illuminate for the duration of the test. The lights may dim as the battery is depleted.

Portable Fire Extinguishers:

Every group home is required to have at least 2 – 2A – 10BC 5lb extinguishers.

When to test:


  • Maintain fire extinguishers in good repair and ensure there is unobstructed easy access to each unit.
  • Check the gauge to make sure the extinguisher is operational. A functioning unit will have a pressure gauge in the “green” operational zone and not be discharged /overcharged.


  • Fire extinguishers must be inspected and maintained by a qualified inspector. The extinguisher must be “tagged” to verify operation along with the date of inspection.

Exit Doors:

Inspect and test monthly that all exit doors operate smoothly and open to 90 degrees or more. Note heaving of concrete or build-up of ice and snow can interfere with the operation of some doors.

Means of Egress:

The way out of a building during an emergency.

Ongoing Inspections:

  • Free of obstructions.
  • No storage of combustible or flammable materials around doorways or on a path of egress.
  • Handrails and guardrails are secure and in good repair.
  • Exits are free of ice and snow at all times.
  • Exits are clearly visible.

Record monthly that all means of egress are in good repair and free of obstructions.

Bedroom Windows:

Inspect and test monthly that the windows are in good condition will open.

Fire Drills:

Saskatoon Fire & Protective Services has comprehensive guidelines for planning and conducting fire drills. Click HERE to access the guidelines.

Record monthly for the Fire Inspector:

  • The date, time of day and performance of the fire drill (time needed to evacuate the building).
  • All persons participating.
  • The type of drill (comprehensive, silent, table talk, other).
  • The fire drill scenario (announced or unannounced drill, alarm sounding, simulation aids and props). 
  • Summary analysis and outcomes of the fire drill.

Record keeping for the home operator may be more detailed in order to analyze the results and achieve better outcomes. The objective is to decrease the time it takes everybody to evacuate the building in a safe and efficient manner. Monthly fire drills are one way of achieving these goals.

Additional Resources:

The Manager Resource Area of the SARC website includes some templates to help you record all the information needed for a fire inspection. These can be found by going into the Manager Resource Area and then clicking Infrastructure –> Facility Management.

  • Annual Fire Safety Inspection Checklist
  • Monthly Fire Safety Inspection Checklist
  • Monthly Fire Drill Report

Monthly checklists can be stored in a binder and shown to the Fire Inspector upon request.

Documentation of these inspections and tests are the minimum requirements needed to comply with the latest building and fire codes for Alternate Family Care Homes.

The overall goal is to increase the fire safety of the building and to continue ongoing assessment of the effectiveness of emergency procedures. Careful emergency planning and documentation is one way to increase fire safety.


Please Note: The included information is for reference only, and SARC and its Members, their employers, officers, and Directors assume and accept no liability for any consequences arising from the use, non-use, accuracy, or legal compliance of any of the information, tools, or resources provided.

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