Fire Safety and Public Education Overview

Everyone has the responsibility to keep their families and homes safe from fire and carbon monoxide. The best ways to do this are to:

  • prevent fires from starting;
  • maintain working smoke alarms on every storey of your home and outside all sleeping areas to have as much time to safely escape as possible, if a fire does occur. Not only do smoke alarms save lives, they are required by law;
  • plan and practice a home fire escape plan so everyone in the home knows exactly what to do should the smoke alarms sound in an emergency;
  • have fuel-burning appliance serviced annually by certified service technicians and install and maintain working carbon monoxide alarms adjacent to each sleeping area, and
  • consider installing residential sprinklers when building a new home or doing extensive renovations. 

Smoke Alarms

Only a working smoke alarm can save your life.

Legal Responsibility

  • Every home in Ontario must have a working smoke alarm on every level of the home and outside all sleeping areas. It's the law.
  • It is the homeowner's responsibility to install and maintain smoke alarms. In a rental unit, it is the landlord's responsibility to comply with the law;
  • It is against the law to disable a smoke alarm.

Maintain Your Smoke Alarm

  • Test your smoke alarms on a monthly basis by pushing the test button;
  • To make sure your batteries are always fresh, change them when you change your clocks in the spring and fall;
  • To reduce false alarms, vacuum your smoke alarms at least once a year;
  • If your smoke alarms are more than ten (10) years old, replace them with new ones.

Establish a Fire Escape Plan

  • Draw a floor plan of your home showing all possible exits from each room;
  • Where possible, plan a main exit route and an alternate exit route from each room;
  • Establish a safe meeting place outside your home where every member of your family can meet;
  • Make certain everyone understands if they hear the smoke alarm or someone shouting "Fire" they should immediately evacuate the home;
  • Discuss your escape plan and practice fire drills with your family. This is the best way to prevent panic, especially among children. Be sure every family member knows what to do.
  • If you live in an apartment building, you and your family should know where your exits are and your nearest fire alarm pull station.
  • Establish an escape plan and meeting place with your family. In an emergency, hallway and exit lights may be out of service. Make sure you can follow your escape plan in the dark.

Using Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers are designed as the first line of defense against fire and should only be used to extinguish small fires. If the fire is to large, get out, close all the doors behind you, if possible, and call 9-1-1.

How to use an extinguisher the right way

  • Hold the extinguisher upright;
  • Pull the pin;
  • Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire;
  • Squeeze or pump the handle;
  • Sweep the base of the fire from side to side (left to right).
  • Buy only an extinguisher that has been approved by a national recognized testing laboratory, such as U.L.C.

In Case of Fire

  • If a fire breaks out in your home, remain calm.
  • If the smoke alarm goes off when you're asleep, shout to wake everyone up, follow your escape plan and get out of the building.
  • Don't stop to investigate the origins of the fire or to collect valuables or pets;
  • Use your escape route to get everyone out to safety and meet at the agreed point;
  • Close any doors that are open, and only open the doors you need to go through (this will help to stop the fire from spreading to rapidly);
  • Check doors with the back of your hand. If a door is warm, don't open it, the fire is on the other side;
  • If there is a lot of smoke, crawl along the floor as the air will be cleanest there;
  • If your clothing is on fire - stop, don't run, drop or lower yourself to the floor, roll back and forth, with your hands covering your face until the fire is extinguished;
  • Once you have everyone out of the building, use a mobile phone or a neighbors' phone to call 9-1-1. Give the emergency operator your name and address. Provide as much information as possible about the fire and the building;
  • Don't go back into the building for anything. If there is still someone inside, tell the Fire Department when they arrive on the site, they will be able to find the person more quickly and safely than you can

Fire Prevention

  • Apply the following safety tips in order to prevent fires:
  • Install at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home and test it monthly to ensure it works. If you live in a rental unit, it is the owner's legal responsibility to make sure that you have a working smoke alarm;
  • Develop and practice a fire escape plan that includes two ways out of every room (if possible) and an outside meeting place;
  • Keep cooking areas clean and clear of materials that could catch fire such as pot-holders, towels, rags, drapes and food packaging;
  • If you are a smoker, make sure ashtrays are large and deep, and won't tip over. Douse cigarette and cigar butts with water before discarding them. Never smoke in bed;
  • Use candleholders that are sturdy, won't tip over easily, are made from a material that can't burn and are large enough to collect dripping wax. Don't place lit candles in windows, where blinds and curtains are close to them and never leave a lit candle unattended;
  • Avoid storing flammable liquids in your home, such as gasoline or paint solvents;
  • Never store propane cylinders in your home;
  • Do not use unsafe electrical appliances. Do not use extension cords as permanent wiring and discard frayed extension cords and do not overload circuits;
  • Tighten fuses in fuse panel or check circuit breakers for free operation in the spring and fall.

See also :

Remember Your Emergency Dispatch Zone in Case of a Fire