The Importance of Fire Safety for Your Property

Whether you are a renter of a small loft, just bought your first house or own a multi-residential high-rise, having a fire safety plan in place is vital for everyone that lives within those walls. You wouldn't want to wait for that first fire to occur to see if you have all the equipment and procedures put in place.

It takes only a matter of seconds to be in a life or death situation when there are flames involved. Having the right plan means your loved ones or tenants inside the property can safely evacuate the building. On the other hand though, without any fire safety plan, it could quickly become too late for those inside once they notice the emergency.

Because fire safety is so important for everyone, let's take a look at why that is, and what you can do to ensure the safety of everyone under the roof on your property.

Fire Alarms Saves Lives

Typically the first way of noticing a fire (besides spotting it if you are nearby) is through a fire alarm. The loud noise is meant to alert those in the area at any hour of the day about the hazard quickly approaching. Since the 1997 Building Code requirements, the alarms must be at least 60 dBA in a furnished and occupied building.

There are different types of fire alarm systems available. It is legally required to install smoke detectors in every bedroom, all hallways that are connected to a bedroom, as well as every level of the home. Each year the batteries should be changed and regularly tested by pushing the test button. In rental properties, the landlord is responsible for inspecting and maintaining the smoke detector.

In bigger properties, like rental multi-residential homes (i.e. apartment complexes), you might need something more elaborate for an alarm system. Although each unit is still required to have smoke detectors, a conventional alarm system would alert each level of the building. Smoke can trigger a conventional system even if there is not an actual fire yet for an early warning. These types would be your most cost-effective but are susceptible to false alarms.

But for something a bit more advanced and not as easily triggered by false alarms, an analogue addressable system would work. A control panel monitors each detector and can figure out which device is triggered by the fire.

Ontario law requires inspection of any fire alarm. But it cannot be just anyone. It must be a trained and certified technician that inspects the systems. The purpose of the inspection is to ensure the system is still functioning at the highest level, free of any damage and anything else that could inhibit the system from working. Depending on the components of the alarm, they each have their requirement of how often they need to be inspected. The manufacturer of the alarm will also have an annual test and inspection after installation.

Carbon Monoxide Alarms for the Silent Killer

Since updating Ontario's Fire Code in 2014, Bill 77 requires carbon monoxide alarms to be installed by all sleeping areas of a privately owned home built after 2001. For multi-residential complexes, CO alarms are required if there is a storage room or service rooms with fuel-burning appliances. Then they must be installed near sleeping suites that contain these appliances or are adjacent to rooms with them. Inspections for CO alarms should follow your inspection schedule for smoke detectors and fire alarms.

Each year, over 50 Canadians die from carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a known as a silent killer because there is no taste, smell or colour that is noticeable. Most often the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning mimics that of the flu. If you notice your symptoms improve when you are away from your home, seek medical help for possible carbon monoxide in your home.

Emergency Lighting and Exits in Case of Evacuation

Emergency lighting should be in corridors that are accessible by the public, near exits and any routes that connect to an exit. Any open floor space, or shared spaces, in the building should have emergency lighting installed.

These lights kick in when the power shuts down (which is quite common when a fire occurs). They need to run off of a separate power source than the main lights and should run for at a minimum of 30 minutes.
Fire exit signs also need to be placed throughout the building. If you live in a complex with at least three floors, there should be exit signs located above each emergency exit door. They should be clear to read, always illuminating and say the word EXIT.

Fire Sprinkler Systems to Help Fight Fires

As of 2010, residential buildings that are three storeys high or higher are required to have a fire sprinkler system installed. Buildings built before the update with plans of renovations or construction, need to be retrofitted to meet the Ontario Building Code Act. If no construction is planned, retrofit of the existing building is not required. Fire sprinklers are to be installed not just in hallways and common areas of the building, but also in residential suites as well.

Fire sprinkler systems are an additional way of ensuring the safety of those inside the building. Just as a fire alarm detects the fire and warns those of danger, a fire can set off the sprinklers and release either water or a dry agent to extinguish the fire.

Fire Extinguishers Could Prevent Larger Fires

A fire extinguisher sometimes is all you need to put out a small fire. These devices can be your first line of defence in the case of an emergency like a fire.

Fire extinguishers are not required for rental properties  (Adam's note for readers - there are additional circumstances where they are required - please consult with your local fire department and fire safety experts for details) -  unless there are common areas within the building. Then it is up to the landlord to make sure they are easily accessible. But if the landlord does provide fire extinguishers, then it is recommended they are multi-purpose as to be effective against a wide range of fires.

If there are fire extinguishers in the building, the landlord is liable for the upkeep of the device. Regular maintenance of the extinguisher is required and should include recharging the device. If the extinguisher was used, even for the smallest amount, it must be recharged for it to perform at the maximum capacity.

Ontario Fire Code requires recharging fire extinguishers every six years. Not following this could result in not only fines but also a disastrous outcome if the extinguisher doesn't work. There should be an expiry date on the device. If not, the extinguisher should last up to 15 years and then be replaced.

Fire Safety Education Prevents and Saves

The best solution to a fire is prevention. If you can prevent a fire from occurring in the first place, there would be no harm to those inside the building, as well as potential damage from the flames.

Multi-residential complexes that have more than ten units are required to have a fire safety plan. This plan must show tenants where all fire exits are (all clearly labelled), any fire extinguishers nearby and how to respond to a fire in the building. The landlord should have an updated list of all the tenants in their building, and any assistance someone may require.

A fire safety plan is a way to organize all the systems and devices used, as well as everyone that lives on the property. From the moment the first flame is noticed, to the time everyone is allowed back inside, a fire safety plan helps ensure the safety of everyone around.

The above article was provided from Kelly Davis at - I believe it to be generally accurate though please note that:
1 - Requirements change from time to time
2 - Different property setups have different requirements
3 - There could be unknown errors or inaccurate information 
4 - There are a variety of additional requirements property owners need to meet.
Please consult with your local fire department, city, and fire safety company to guide you on fire safety requirements.

Do you, or do you know someone interested in moving or has questions about real estate? Please send me their information and feel free to send my contact information  to them.
Adam Hoffman | President of Hoffaco Property Management and  Real Estate Sales Representative | RE/MAX Realtron Realty Inc., Brokerage 647-822-1620 | Text or call - I'm happy to talk | Not intended to solicit buyers or sellers currently under contract with a brokerage.