Living in a high-rise or accessory dwelling unit (ADU), you need to think ahead and be prepared in the event of a fire. It is important to know the fire safety features in your building or unit, and work with others in your unit or high-rise to be fire safe. Educate yourself on the emergency procedures outlined in the building’s fire safety plan and remember, every fire is different, so be sure to act quickly when you hear the alarm or discover a fire.
Here are some fire safety tips to keep in mind if a fire happens in your building:
- Tell everyone in your unit to leave.
- Close all doors behind you, pull the fire alarm on your floor and yell ‘fire.’
- Leave the building using the nearest stairway and call 9-1-1 from a safe location.
- Meet the firefighters outside and let them know where the fire is.
The best thing to do in a fire is to leave the building as soon as possible. In some cases, you may not be able to leave and may have to stay in your unit. Either way, you must act quickly. The longer you wait, the more risk there is that heavy smoke will spread. No matter what, you must protect yourself so be sure to get low to the floor and go under the smoke.
If it is safe to leave your unit…
- Check the door. If smoke is entering from around the door or you feel heat, do not open it. If there is no smoke, brace yourself and open the door a little. If the hallway is clear, grab your keys and take the nearest stairway. Never use an elevator.
- Open the nearest stairway door carefully. If there is no smoke, use the stairway to leave the building. If there is smoke, do not enter. Close the door and try to take another stairway. If you are unable to use the stairs, return to your unit and stay there.
- Never go to the roof. Smoke rises and doors opening to the roof are normally locked which means you could be trapped.
- Once out, stay out. Do not go back into the building until CYFS tells you it is safe.
If you need to remain in your unit…
- Call 9-1-1, tell them exactly where you are and listen for instructions. Do not go to the balcony unless conditions in your unit force you to do so. Otherwise, stay in your unit with your doors and windows closed. If safe, keep smoke from entering your unit by placing a rolled towel at the bottom of the door.
- Get low to the floor where the air is cleaner and go under the smoke.
- Stay in your unit until you are rescued, or you are told to leave by CYFS.
- Fire safety begins with you.
- Make sure you have a working smoke alarm on all levels and outside all sleeping areas and a working carbon monoxide alarm outside all sleeping areas. It is the law!
- Prepare and practice your home fire escape plan.
If you hear the fire alarm (for residents living in high-rise bulidings only):
Make a mental checklist:
1. Is the fire in your suite?
- If the fire is in your suite, evacuate immediately. Close the door behind you.
2. Have you called 9-1-1?
- Never assume 9-1-1 has already been called. Call 9-1-1 from a safe location; never call from the building that the fire emergency is in.
3. Has the building been notified of the fire by activation of the fire alarm system?
- Upon evacuation, activate the nearest pull station which will notify the other residents that there is a fire in the building.
4. Is there smoke in the hallway?
- If you can see through the smoke, GET LOW AND GO to the nearest stairwell. Once in the stairwell, safely make your way down to the ground floor to evacuate the building.
5. Is it safe for you to evacuate?
- If you require assistance evacuating in the event of an emergency, it is very important to make a plan. Discuss options with family members and/or residents on your floor. In addition, speak with building management to ensure your name has been added to the Persons Requiring Assistance list in the building's fire safety plan.
For more information, please view this handout on Fire Safety in High-Rise buildings and keep a hard-copy in your home.