Prevention, Detection, Escape

Every person is responsible for their own fire safety. It is everyone's responsibility to implement and practise the three lines of defence against fire: Prevention, Detection, Escape.

Was your home built in 2013? Your alarms may be expired.

Is your home ten years old? If your home still has the original hard-wired fire alarms and carbon monoxide alarms they need to be replaced. You cannot replace hardwired alarms with battery-powered alarms. Learn about replacing hard-wired smoke alarms.


Check your home for fire hazards and eliminate them, and complete the Home Fire Safety Checklist. Most home fires are still caused by careless cooking, smoking, and candle use. Quick prevention tips:

  • Keep hazards minimized through a regular housekeeping program.
  • Keep all areas of the home, garage and yard clear of rubbish and combustible waste.
  • Clean the dryer lint trap before each use and the whole dryer vent at least yearly. Related video: Clothes Dryer Safety
  • Ensure containers for flammable liquids, solvent, adhesives and pressurized aerosol cans are approved and stored according to manufacturer recommendations.
  • Store gasoline-powered equipment outside of the house.


Smoke Alarms

Working smoke alarms are so important, it’s the law to have them on every story of your home and outside sleeping areas. Remember: while installation and maintenance is mandated by the Ontario Fire Code, this code is the minimum standard. Have enough smoke alarms to provide your family with the early warning needed to escape from a fire. For example:

  • if you have family members sleeping on different levels of the home, consider interconnected alarms so that when one rings, they all ring.
  • if you have family members who require assistance to escape during an emergency, install extra alarms so when a fire is small enough you can get to them and all escape safely.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Alarms

The Ontario Fire Code now requires every home that has a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning install a CO alarm outside of sleeping areas. You may require more than one CO alarm if you have family members/residents sleeping on different levels of your home. Learn about CO alarms.


If a fire occurred in your home tonight, would your family get out safely? Everyone must know what to do and where to go when the smoke alarm sounds. Take a few minutes with everyone in your household to make a home fire escape plan. Download the BFES Fire Safety Plan Kit and include the following information:

Escape Considerations for High-Rise Buildings

Due to equipment limitations, firefighters cannot rescue people from an outside balcony or window above the seventh floor. Firefighters must do interior firefighting and rescue tactics. If you live or work in a high-rise building, review the following frequently asked questions:

Escape Considerations for Seniors

Many seniors still depend on escape routes that were planned when the kids were young. Update these plans with their current capabilities in mind, and practice with them. Place a telephone beside the bed, as well as a list of current medications, slippers, house keys, eyeglasses and a flashlight – anything you may need to take with you if you have to leave quickly. Related video: Fire Safety for Older Adults

Escape Considerations for Mobility Issues

Now that you’re in, how do you get out? The most important step is to invest a few hours to pre-plan for a fire emergency. Knowing what to do in case of fire may save your life! Talk to family, friends, neighbours, and building supervisory staff about your special needs in an emergency. Review the frequently asked questions:


  • Plan 2 ways out of every room, if possible.
  • Hold a fire drill twice a year.
  • Install smoke alarms on every story of your home and outside all sleeping areas.
  • If you live in a high-rise building, contact the building management for information on your building’s fire safety plan.
  • Plan around your abilities.

Visit the Fire Safety Education & Awareness page to learn about our fire safety programs for all ages.