Better know a Canadian functionary: the Dominion Fire Commissioner

After Parliament burnt down in 1916, a Commission of Conservation was formed under former Minister of the Interior Sir Clifford Sifton to study the state of fire prevention and firefighting in Canada. The committee’s report, Fire Waste in Canada, was published in 1918 and threw damning light on the inadequacy of co-ordination of fire regulations and of the reporting of the economic losses in Canada from fires. In 1919 the Office of the Dominion Fire Commissioner was set up in the Department of Public works to improve national firefighting standards, research new fire prevention methods, and compile an annual summary of financial losses from fire in Canada.

The Dominion Fire Commissioner was renamed the Fire Commissioner of Canada in 1982 and transferred to the Department of Labour in 1986 before the office was abolished and merged into the Occupational Health and Safety division of Human Resources and Development Canada in 1992. The annual list of fire losses was never required by federal law, and a combination of federal budget cuts and improved fire loss reporting at the provincial level meant that HRDC stopped publishing the annual Fire Losses in Canada reports in 2002.

The Dominion Fire Commissioners and Fire Commissioners of Canada were:

Joseph Grove Smith, 1919-39.
Wilfrid Laurier Clairmont, 1939-49.
Christian A. Thomson, 1949-58.
Ross A.W. Switzer, 1958-78.
G. Alexander Hope, 1978-86.
Thomas J. Dunfield, 1986-92.

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