Homeowner Fire Safety Responsibilities

In addition to practising the three lines of defence against fire — Prevention, Detection, Escape — homeowners also have the following safety responsibilities.

Awareness of Fire & Carbon Monoxide Hazards

Fire is not inevitable and it is also not an accident. Over 90% of all home fires are preventable. People feel safest in their own home, yet that is where they are the most vulnerable. Please take responsibility for your safety and review fire and carbon monoxide hazards.

House Numbers

In the case of an emergency, medical emergency or fire, minutes can mean the difference between life and death. Firefighters are equipped with many tools to help improve arrival time. One of these tools is a detailed map of their designated areas. House numbers are imperative for a quick reference. The more camouflaged and hard-to-find the numbers are, the longer it will take emergency personnel to arrive at the scene.

Here are some of the basic requirements for house numbers, outlined within the Municipal Addressing By-law:

  • Must be Arabic numerals. Fancy numbers or numbers that are spelled out may be aesthetically pleasing but are very difficult to read from the street.
  • Need to be a minimum of three inches high and in a contrasting colour to their immediate background. Brass or bronze numbers are difficult to see.
  • Must be displayed on the front of the dwelling and visible from the street.
  • If the dwelling is located more than 45 feet from the front lot line, the number should be displayed on a gate post, fence, mailbox, or other appropriate place that will make it visible from all directions when approaching from the street.
  • Cannot be obstructed by shrubs, trees, decorations, etc.


Wintry weather can contribute to seasonal safety considerations, including ice or heavy snowfall that can obstruct fire hydrants. You can help reduce the risk by keeping nearby fire hydrants accessible and clear of ice and snow.

In an emergency, every second matters. Fire hydrants that are blocked, concealed or difficult to access due to snow or ice can impede emergency fire response.  Fire trucks carry a finite amount of water, so one of a responders’ first tasks upon arriving on scene is to locate a water supply from the nearest hydrant. Those covered in snow can be difficult to locate, and uncovering them can waste valuable time needed during a fire fight.

You can help reduce the risk by keeping nearby fire hydrants accessible and clear of ice and snow.  Although there are few rules concerning who should clear hydrants, it’s generally considered the responsibility of the residents occupying property near a hydrant.  In addition to removing snow and debris covering the hydrant itself, BFES recommends clearing the area around the hydrant for easier access.  Hydrants should have a clearing of one metre (3 ft.) all around and there should be a clear path to the street to ensure firefighters can readily access them.

If you need assistance with hydrant snow removal, please call Water Operations, 705-792-7920.

Consider the following:

  • In Barrie, we have a heavy annual snowfall and while we will make every effort to clear the snow from the fire hydrants, it’s important to take matters into your own hands to help keep hydrants clear.
  • The owners or occupants of rental apartment complexes or buildings are responsible for keeping hydrants on or fronting their properties clear.
  • Consider helping elderly friends, neighbours or those with medical conditions keep their fire hydrants clear.