Lets face it, a fire in your home or condo building is terrifying, one mistake made by yourself or someone else could potentially cause extreme turmoil for many different. Which is why fire safety is so, so important. By working together and ensuring everyone does their due diligence you can life assured your home will be safe from any harm. Listed below we cover steps owners and condo buildings can take to ensure your beloved home will stay fire free.
Building Fire Safety Features
It is important to know the fire safety features of your building; your building should be equipped with a building wide fire alarm system, sprinklers, heat detectors, pull stations, properly lit emergency exits, fire doors and an evacuation plan.
Building Wide Fire System
|This type of system will only activate if any of the heat detectors sense heat or smoke, once the building wide system goes off the alarms will ring throughout each unit, all common areas and notify the nearest fire department. When this happens, it is best to get out of the building (using the stairs only) and wait at your buildings muster point until further direction is given. If for some reason you smell smoke or see a fire and the building wide system has not gone off, you should find a pull station to set the alarm off in the entire building.|
|Your sprinkler will automatically go off if its heat sensor senses heat at approximately 68⁰C, smoke will not make your sprinkler system activate, only the sprinkler closest to the fire will activate. Never hang anything from the sprinkler heads as this could cause major water damage to your unit and an unnecessary activation of the building wide fire system.|
|Your building should be equipped with metal fire doors that will always either stay closed or close upon fire system activation, these doors will help prevent a fire from crossing over to other parts of the building.|
|Pull stations are located on each floor, near exits and stairwells and are there to activate the fire system letting the entire building know there is an emergency and to evacuate accordingly.|
|Your building should be equipped with fire extinguishers throughout the common areas of the building. Typically, these are located near the pull stations and are available for use if needed.|
|Not only should your building have an evacuation plan, it is a great idea to have a evacuation plan of your own too. You should know the locations of all stairwells/emergency exits, the building meeting place. Ensure you check each door for heat before entering or exiting and close all doors as you are evacuating.|
Be sure to speak with your Condo Board of Directors or your buildings management company for more information on your building fire alarm system and evacuation plan.
Condo Unit Fire Safety
Although living in a condo does not increase the chance of a fire, there are special areas of concerns when it comes to fire safety. Residents of condos or apartments live closer together which can affect the risks of a fire spreading rapidly and smoke or heat travelling throughout the building affecting the safety of all occupants.
There are steps you can take to ensure you are minimizing the chances of a fire within your unit. Below is a list of potential fire hazards and how to ensure the fire risk is minimized.
Heating Equipment is a leading cause of residential fires, these include electric baseboards, furnaces, fireplaces and portable space heaters. Ensure you have a 3-foot child and pet free zone around any of these items and always, always remember to turn your portable heater off when leaving the room or going to bed. It is also advised to ensure your building is checking/cleaning your fireplace each year for any gas leaks or dirty chimneys.
Careless Smoking is another major leading cause of residential fires. If you smoke, smoke outside, never smoke in bed or while laying on the couch. Keep all smoking materials (lighters, matches etc.) up and away from children. NEVER discard cigarettes in potted plants, bushes, grass, or leaves, ensure you are using a deep sturdy ashtray and place it away from anything that can burn and always, always ensure your cigarette butt is completely out before leaving it unattended or disposing it in the trash.
Electrical Fires electricity must be treated with respect; it can be very dangerous if mishandled. As a homeowner it is your responsibility to ensure you do not overload electrical outlets or use any frayed, cracked, or worn out cords. If you are unsure of any electrical outlets or frequent breaker trips it is advised to call an electrician and have it looked at.
Candle Fires candles look pretty and smell great, but they are yet another leading cause of residential fires, your best bet is not to have candles in your residence but if you do there are things you can do to ensure proper usage. Always use sturdy candle holders that cannot tip over easily, keep items (decorations) at minimum 3 feet away, and always, always ensure your candles are completely out before leaving the room or going to bed.
BBQ Fires you must follow the manufacturers installation instructions for clearances from combustible overhangs, decks, walls, fences and be sure to keep your BBQ area clear of branches, leaves or other combustibles. Be sure to keep your BBQ clean by removing grease buildup on a regular basis, and never leave your BBQ unattended while its on. It is best to frequently check the hoses for leaks, you can do this by applying a light soap and water solution to the hose, if there is a leak bubbles will form, if this happens turn off the gas immediately, if the leak stops get your BBQ serviced before using it again, if the leak does not stop call 911.
There are 3 key items you should have in your unit that can prevent a fire from getting out of control:
- Smoke Alarm is the most important device you can have, every unit in your building should have its own, working, smoke alarm. It is advised you test your smoke alarm each month and always replace the batteries when your alarm makes any sounds such as a “chirp”. If your smoke alarm sounds it will not activate the building wide fire alarm, this is only going to give you a warning.
- Carbon Monoxide Alarm if you have an oil, propane, gas or wood device in your home you should have a carbon monoxide alarm. Carbon monoxide is known as the “Silent Killer” due to it being odorless and invisible, it is advised to keep your alarm low to the ground (usually plugged into the wall) and tested each month to ensure it is in working condition.
- Household Fire Extinguisher cooking fires are another leading cause of residential fires, it is your best bet to ensure a household fire extinguisher is installed in your kitchen where it is easily accessible. There are 4 types of fire extinguishers available for different types of fires, below is a list of each type of fire and the class of extinguisher required. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA.org) recommends to have a fire extinguisher in rooms that can be prone to a fire, this can include kitchens, furnace rooms, garages etc. A fire extinguisher can be purchased from the nearest home improvement store for around such as Home Depot, Canadian Tire or you can contact the nearest Fire & Safety business such as Sprouse. Depending on your home insurance plan, it may be covered as well.
|Class of Fire||Description|
|Class A||Used on ordinary combustibles such as wood, paper, cloth, trash|
|Class B||Used for flammable liquids such as grease, gas, oil, paints, propane|
|Class C||Only for electrical fires|
|Class D||Used on flammable metals (uncommon in a household)|
|Class K||Commonly used in restaurants or kitchens and will put out fires caused by cooking fats, greases and oils.|
|Multipurpose||Can be used on various fires depending on which class its made for.|
Calgary Fire Inspections (a division of the Calgary Fire Department) have prepared a booklet listing the fire safety maintenance requirements for all existing buildings, for a complete list of maintenance requirements the Alberta Fire Code must be consulted. This booklet gives a broad overview of the fire safety maintenance requirements that must be completed throughout each year to ensure your building fire system is running efficiently. Some of these items should be completed daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly, for the complete list please click the link below for the information booklet or for more in-depth information please ask your Board of Directors to see the buildings copy of the Alberta Fire Code (AFC).
We hope this information helps any fire safety worries you may have and get you prepared for any type of fire emergency. For more information please see the below links: