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Learn what to do if a fire happens in your building. This is the best way to protect yourself and those around you.

This article contains general advice for tenants of buildings that are three storeys high or more. If you live in a building with fewer than three storeys, talk to you superintendent or landlord and work out a personal fire safety plan. Do it now!

Every fire is different. You must act quickly when you hear the alarm or discover a fire. You must always protect yourself from smoke.

Remember, most people die from smoke, not fire. Here is what to do.

If there is a fire your apartment

  • Tell everyone in your apartment to leave.
  • Close all doors behind you.
  • Pull the fire alarm on your floor and yell fire.
  • Leave the building using the nearest stairway.
  • Call the fire department when you are safe.
  • Meet the firefighters at the front entrance and tell them where the fire is.

When you hear the fire alarm
pulling fire alarm station

                       To go or to stay…the decision is yours

Most of the time, the best thing to do in a fire is leave the building as soon as possible. But in some cases you may not be able to leave and you may have to stay in your apartment. In either case you must act quickly. No matter what your decision you must protect yourself from the smoke.

If you decide to leave the building
feeling the door Check the door to your apartment. If smoke is entering from around the door, do not open it. Protect yourself from smoke inside your apartment as described later.

  • If there is no smoke, brace yourself and open the door a little.
    • If you see smoke or feel heat, close the door quickly and protect yourself
    • If the corridor is clear, take your keys, lock your door, and go to the nearest stairway.
  • Open the nearest stairway door carefully. stairway door with smoke
    • If there is no smoke, use the stairway to leave the building.
    • If there is smoke, do not enter. Close the door. Go to another stairway and open the door carefully.
    • If there is no smoke here, use this stairway to leave the building
    • If there is smoke, do not enter. If there are other stairways, try them. If there are not, return to your apartment and protect yourself from smoke

When you are inside the stairway
If you find smoke on your way down the stairs, leave that stairway as soon as you can. In some buildings, some doors leading from the stairway to the corridor may be locked. But at least every five floors the doors will not lock so you can leave the stairway.

crawling under smoke

  • Use another stairway if it is clear of smoke.
  • If you can’t use any stairway, return to your apartment if you can, or go into any corridor and bang on apartment doors until you find a place to take shelter.
  • Never go to the roof. Smoke usually rises to the top of the stairway. Doors opening onto the roof are locked and you could be trapped.
  • Remember, wherever you are, if there is smoke, crawl low under it. The air is cleaner near the floor.

If you remain in your apartment
You must protect yourself from smoke. Stay in your apartment until you are rescued or until you are told to leave. This may take a long time. Do not try to leave your apartment a long time after the alarm has sounded. The longer you wait, the more risk there is that heavy smoke will have spread into stairways and corridors. Your chances of survival are less.

  • Keep smoke from entering your apartment. Use duct tape to seal cracks around the door and place wet towels at the bottom. Seal vents or air ducts the same way. taping cracks around door
  • If smoke enters your apartment:
    • Telephone the fire department, tell them where you are and then move to the balcony. Close the doors behind you.
    • If you don’t have a balcony, go to the most smoke-free room, close the door and seal it with tape and towels. Open the window for fresh air.
    • Show your rescuers where you are by hanging a sheet from the window or balcony.
    • Keep low to the floor where the air is cleaner.
    • Listen for instructions from authorities.


Remember, fire safety begins with you

family on balcony with sheet tied to it Find out about fire safety in your building. For more information to help you survive a fire, ask your building management or Norfolk County Fire and Rescue Services.


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