Apartment and High-Rise Fire Safety

Apartment and High-Rise Fire Safety
The greatest causes of most apartment and high-rise fires are:
* Cooking/ kitchen fires
* Heating equipment such as heaters, stoves or space heaters
* Smoking
Be aware and take steps to stop fires before they start.
An apartment or high-rise fire is no cause for panic.  If you plan ahead and practice fire drills, your chances of survival are greatly increased.
Building Safety
To save lives and minimize property damage, the fire safety features of your apartment or high-rise building must be inspected and maintained.
Alarms, Emergency Lighting, and Sprinkler Systems
Know who is responsible for maintaining these important safety systems in your building. Make sure that nothing blocks or otherwise interferes with such devices, and promptly report any sign of damage or malfunction to building management.
Fire Exits
Never lock fire exits or block doorways, halls, or stairways.  Fire doors not only provide a way out during a fire, they also slow the spread of fire and smoke.  Never prop fire doors open.
Tips for being prepared
Does your building have an evacuation plan?
Protecting yourself and others should be a top priority!  Each and every resident should be responsible for his or her building.  You should take the time to:
Learn your building’s floor plans and evacuation procedures.  They should be posted on every floor.
Develop and practice your fire safety plan.  Know the two quickest and safest ways out of your building.
Train and implement a fire warden on each level of the building to ensure safe evacuation and ongoing safety programs.
Conduct a fire drill at least once a year but practice your escape plans regularly.
Coordinate practice drills with neighbours, fellow workers, the floor warden and building manager.
Assign someone to assist people with disabilities who may need assistance to evacuate safely.
Ensure everyone knows what to do when the alarm sounds.
Arrange a predetermined meeting place, in case of fire. Do not go back into the building for any reason.
Do you know how to escape from a fire in your apartment building?
Check doors before opening them.  Kneel or crouch behind a door, reach up high and touch the door, knob and frame.
* If the door feels cool, then open it with caution. Put your shoulder against the door, open it slowly and proceed.
* If you see flames or smoke on the other side, use another escape route or stay in your apartment.
If you’re unable to leave your apartment, protect yourself by placing towels, sheets or clothes around the door and vents to keep smoke out. Then:
* Call the fire department using the emergency number to notify them of your location. The emergency number for Coquitlam Fire & Rescue is 9-1-1
* If there is no smoke outside a window, open it and signal for help by waving a bright towel, sheet or flashlight
* Be patient. Rescuing all the occupants of a high-rise building can take several hours.
Never use elevators in a fire!  It may stop at a floor where the fire is burning or malfunction and trap you. Go directly to a stairwell that’s free of smoke and flame. Use the exit stairways and close all doors behind you to slow the spread of a fire.
If an announcement can be heard over your building’s public address system, listen carefully and follow the directions. You may be told to stay where you are.
If your escape route becomes smoky, crawl low under the smoke.  Smoke rises, so the cleanest air is near the floor.
If your route becomes impassable due to smoke, heat or fire, return to your suite or use an alternate escape route.  Never go to the roof as you may become trapped with no means of escape or protection.
Get out and go directly to your planned meeting place and stay there.
Once you are out, stay out, and stay out of the way of firefighters. Tell the fire department if you know of anyone trapped in the building. Do not go back inside for any reason, until the firefighters tell you it is safe to do so.
Owners, Managers and Employers
If you own, manage or employ workers in a high rise building, you should have the answers to these questions:
* Do you have a fire emergency plan?
* Has it been reviewed and approved by the fire department?
* Have tenants and employees been given full instructions on the details of the plan?
* Can the building be evacuated to the street without interfering with fire department personnel? If the answer is no, are there areas of refuge in the building?
* Is there provision for physically challenged people who may be in the building?
* If a fire starts, will it be detected promptly? How?
* Will the fire department be notified promptly? How?
* Is there a provision for heating, ventilation and air conditioning smoke control?
* Is there an emergency communications system?
* Does the building have area or floor fire wardens? Have they been trained?
* Are fire pumps, emergency generators and lighting systems ready to use if needed?
* Are all exit doors and exitways clear?
* Are emergency hose station cabinets, standpipe connections and fire extinguishers in working order?
* Will security measures, such as locking of doors, interfere with evacuation of occupants or access of firefighters?
* Has space been designated for a fire department command center in the building?
Fire/Rescue’s Prevention Division can provide assistance or direction to building owners  or managers with the above questions and in developing or updating their fire safety plan.

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