Fire Bylaw 12472

The Fire Bylaw regulates fire safety in homes and communities.

On this page, read a summary of regulations about:

Assembly or establishment occupancy limits

For details, refer to the Fire Bylaw, Division B, Article

For your safety, Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services enforces a limit on the number of people who may assemble in the same premises, and for any establishment that serves licensed beverages.

The limit to the number of occupants is determined by factors related to the floor layout, width of exits, furniture arrangements, and lighting. For your convenience, download and complete the Occupancy Load Regulations and Calculation package below.

Carbon monoxide alarms

Every dwelling unit in the City needs to have CO alarms installed, if the dwelling unit:

  • Has an attached garage
  • Has a fuel-fired (natural gas, fuel oil, diesel) appliance (furnace, hot water tank, stove, fireplace)
  • Shares a common floor or wall with a parking garage, or a service room containing a fuel-fired appliance

CO alarms can be battery-powered, electrically plugged-in type, or hard-wired. They must be CSA listed.  

If hard-wired or electrically plugged-in type, ensure the CO alarm is not connected to an electrical circuit that has an on/off switch, other than at the circuit-breaker.

Where a dwelling unit requires a CO alarm, the CO alarm must be installed either inside each bedroom or outside each bedroom within 5 m of the bedroom door, measured following corridors and doorways.

The manufacturer’s instructions are to be followed for the height of installation of the device. In the absence of manufacturer’s instructions, they are to be installed on or near the ceiling (within 150 mm).

Exterior means of egress structures

Property owners are responsible for maintaining means of egress including exterior stairs, landings, passageways, and fire escapes in good repair.

Effective June 25, 2020, all buildings over 3 storeys in height other than single-family houses and duplexes with or without secondary suites are required to have professional structural engineers engaged in the inspection, testing, and repair of exterior means of egress.  Each exterior means of egress structure must have a weather-resistant tag visible from the ground level which indicates whether the structure is safe to use, use with caution, or is unsafe to use.

For more information on structural assessments on exterior means of egress, read bulletin 2020-001-FI (306 KB).  

See examples of the engineer assessment tags (80 KB) and download the templates for the engineer assessment tags (20 KB).

False fire alarms

A false alarm is when:

  1. A fire alarm system, security system, or similar system that's designed to notify the Vancouver Fire and Rescue Service of a fire or emergency is activated,
  2. VFRS is notified directly or indirectly,
  3. VFRS attends, and
  4. There is no evidence of a fire or emergency.

In most instances, false alarms are caused by alarm testing, mechanical failure, atmospheric conditions, or mischief.

Other than mischief calls, VFRS will charge a $200 service fee for attending the third and subsequent false fire alarm occurring in one calendar year.

When false fire alarms are caused by a person found to have mischievous or malicious intent, that person can be fined a municipal ticket costing a minimum $500.   

Fire and exit doors

  1. Fire and exit doors shall be equipped with self closing devices.
  2. Fire and exit doors shall properly close and latch.
  3. Fire and exit doors shall not be locked to prevent exit.
  4. Fire doors shall be properly labelled in capital letters a minimum of 6 mm in height. Use the text: FIRE DOOR - KEEP CLOSED
  5. Suite doors shall be equipped with self closing devices and shall properly close and latch.
  6. No wedges, blocks, or other devices are permitted to hold doors open. Magnetic hold open devices (with permit) are allowed.

ASTTBC certification

Protection system pre-inspection certification

About fire safety and protection systems inspections by an Applied Science Technologist and Technicians of BC (ASTTBC) certified inspector.

Fire protection systems

In areas where regulated by bylaw:

  1. An ASTTBC-certified technician shall inspect and tag the following items annually:
    • Sprinkler and standpipe systems
    • Fire alarm systems
    • Emergency lighting equipment
    • Portable fire extinguishers
    • Commercial kitchen automatic extinguishing systems
  2. Commercial kitchen hood and duct ventilation systems shall be inspected at least once per week. When grease or other residue deposits appear within the hood or ducts, an ASTTBC-certified technician shall clean and tag the system, generally every 3 to 12 months depending on the amount of cooking. Systems serving solid fuel cooking operations generally require inspection and cleaning by an ASTTBC-certified technician every 30 days.
  3. It's not necessary to notify VFRS of planned fire drills or tests of fire protection systems. However, notify your alarm monitoring company of any tests to prevent false fire alarms.

Flammable and combustible liquids

  1. The maximum amount of flammable and combustible liquids that can be stored in a:
    • Dwelling unit is 30 litres, of which up to 10 litres can be a flammable liquid (Class 1 liquid, such as gasoline)
    • Room of an office building or a school is 10 litres, of which 5 litres can be a flammable liquid (Class 1 liquid)
  2. Flammable and combustible liquids shall not be stored on exterior balconies.
  3. Quantities exceeding those above shall be stored in a storage room:
    • Having no openings into the public portions of the building.
    • Not located below the first storey.
  4. Propane shall not be stored in a building.
  5. For more information and specific enquiries about flammable and combustible liquid storage, contact the Fire Prevention Office.


  1. Access for fire, rescue, and emergency response must be kept clear at all times.
  2. Combustible materials shall not be permitted to accumulate in or around a building, or in any part of a public corridor, exit, ventilation shaft, crawl or ceiling space.
  3. In storage rooms, maintain a minimum clearance of 45 cm (18 inches) between the sprinkler deflector and any stored items.
  4. Keep mechanical and electrical service rooms clear of all storage. Label doors with the purpose of the room, and equip them with self closing devices.
  5. Underground parking garages are to be used primarily for vehicle storage. The City will serve a violation notice if the amount of stored items exceeds the capacity of the fire protection sprinklers. The sprinkler system must be reviewed by a professional engineer and may need upgrading in the following situations:
    • Excessive amount of stored items (such as in general storage rooms)
    • Higher rates of heat release are expected (for example, when there is a large amount of plastics).

Smoke alarms

Every dwelling unit – new, altered, or existing – must have working smoke alarms.

For single family dwelling buildings without a secondary suite, or for locations in a dwelling unit where smoke alarms were not required by the Building Bylaw at the time of construction or alteration of the dwelling unit, smoke alarms may be battery-operated.

For dwelling units in multi-unit residential buildings, smoke alarms must be hard-wired to an electrical circuit. 

Underground storage tanks

Property owners must remove underground storage tanks and all associated pipe connectors that have been out of service for two years. This reduces the risk of leaking flammable or combustible liquids into the surrounding soil.

In some cases, the property owner may apply for a permit to abandon the underground storage tank in place and empty  liquids. Another permit will be required to remove the tank at a later date. If contaminated soil is found, the owner must remove and replace it with clean fill.

Apply for a permit to remove or abandon a tank.

Vacant buildings

If a building is vacant and shows signs of disrepair, the building must be secured against unauthorized entry that could lead to fire hazards. 

Property owners must ensure that buildings and sites are free from hazards and are maintained in conformity with accepted health, fire, and building requirements.

For more information on securing a vacant property and removing fire hazards read the security of vacant buildings bulletin  (149 KB).

Fire Bylaw

The Fire By-law is to be read in conjunction with the 2018 BC Fire Code. The BC Fire Code is available for viewing at the Vancouver Public Library , and is available for purchase from the Queen’s Printer .

Read the Fire By-law (212 KB)

Contact Fire Prevention

Monday to Friday
8:30am to 4:30pm

600 - 575 W 8th Ave
Vancouver BC, V5Z 0C4