Fire safety begins with you

Protect what you value most. Learn more about how to keep you and your family safe.

How to Fire Safety Videos

Fire safety initiative that features various step-by-step how-to videos on fire and life safety. 

Smoke alarms

Smoke alarm

Smoke alarms help save lives in the case of an emergency. It is the law to have working smoke alarms:

  • Outside all sleeping areas
  • On every storey of your home
  • Consider one for every bedroom

Failure to comply could result in a fine under the Ontario Fire Code.

If you have hard-wired alarms in your home, the units must be installed and/or serviced by a licensed technician/electrician.

If you are a tenant, your landlord, or property manager, is responsible for maintaining your alarms. Landlords/property managers are responsible for supplying and or replacing batteries, smoke alarms, and CO alarms where required. Please contact your landlord or property manager for assistance. 

Did you know?
  • Smoke and CO alarms are required on every level of your home and outside all sleeping areas.
  • Smoke alarms (battery or hard wired) expire every 10 years or as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • CO alarms expire every five years or as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • A helpful tip, change the batteries in all of your alarms when you change your clock in the spring and fall.

If you have a fire, or CO emergency, get everyone out of the house immediately and call 9-1-1 from outside your home at your safe meeting spot.

Maintenance for smoke alarms

Follow these steps to make sure your smoke alarms are working at their best:

  • Test your smoke alarms every month using the test button
  • Replace smoke alarm batteries twice a year and whenever the low battery warning sounds
  • Replace smoke alarms every ten years

After 10 years, the smoke alarm has tested the air in your home 3.5 million times. The components inside the alarm can wear out and may not detect a fire as quickly. Most manufacturers require replacement, including hard wired (electrical) alarms, after ten years to ensure the best level of protection in your home.

Managing nuisance alarms

Sometimes smoke alarms are accidentally set off, generally because of cooking activities or steam from the shower. To help this problem so that smoke alarms only go off when there is a real emergency:

  • Install smoke alarms with a "pause" or "hush" feature
  • Move the alarm elsewhere on the ceiling
  • Use the fan on the range hood when cooking
  • Avoid having a smoke alarm too close to the cooking area
  • Keep ovens and burners clean and turn down the setting on the toaster
What to do if your smoke alarm goes off

If your smoke alarm is in full alarm mode, alert others and evacuate to your family meeting place outside of your home. Do not re-enter your home and call 911 from a safe location.

If the alarm is chirping, first check the area to try to detect the smell of smoke. If you are certain that no emergency exists, assess the number of chirps and the interval between chirps.

Check the manual to determine the cause of the beeps. For example, an alarm may chirp once every minute to indicate the battery is in need of replacement, or once every 30 seconds for end of life notification. You can give us a call at 905-853-8842 and ask to speak with a Fire Prevention Officer if you need help with your smoke alarm.

Types of alarms

Knowing the different types of alarms can help you understand how to maintain and operate the alarms in your home. 
Here are some of a the different types of Alarms that may be found in your home.
  • Battery-operated smoke alarm:

A smoke alarm is a single unit that is placed onto the ceiling of your home, on every floor and outside of sleeping areas. This alarm is only capable of detecting smoke.  

  • Combination alarm: 

Combination alarms are a single unit that is placed on the ceiling of your home, on every floor and outside of sleeping areas. This alarm is capable of detecting both smoke and carbon monoxide.  

  • Plug-in Carbon Monoxide Alarm: 

Plug-in carbon monoxide alarms are single units that are placed into a wall outlet outside of sleeping areas. These alarms are only capable of detecting carbon monoxide.

  • Hardwired alarm: 

Hardwired alarms are physically attached to your home’s electrical wiring. They are wired directly into your home’s electrical system. In this setup, the cables run from one sensor to the next. This means your alarms will have a continuous power supply. Interconnected hardwired smoke alarms allow all alarms connected on the same wire to sound at the time, meaning when one alarm sounds they all will sound. 

Carbon Monoxide alarms

CO alarm

Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarms protect you from carbon monoxide poisoning. The law requires that you install CO alarm(s) in your home or apartment if you have a:

  • Gas stove
  • Wood stove
  • Furnace
  • Gas fuelled water heater
  • Fire place
  • Garage
What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odorless, tasteless and deadly gas produced by burning gasoline, wood, propane, charcoal or other fuel. CO can enter your home from faulty or improperly ventilated home appliances that burn natural gas, oil, propane, wood or kerosene.

If you are exposed to CO, you may experience the following health risks:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue

In severe cases, you may experience CO poisoning which can cause brain damage and potentially death. Severe symptoms include:

  • Mental confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of muscle control and coordination
  • Loss of consciousness
Maintaining and installing Carbon Monoxide alarms

Your carbon monoxide alarm should be tested regularly to make sure it is operating properly. Keep the unit clean and free of dust dirt and other debris, which could affect proper functioning. The manual will tell you how to test your alarm.

You should keep common household chemicals and cleaners away from your CO alarms. Low exposure over an extended period could damage the sensing device and cause it to malfunction.

It is important to install a CO alarm near sleeping areas. You should have a working CO alarm on every level of your home that contains a sleeping area. For added safety, you can add more alarms near heating sources.

What if my Carbon Monoxide alarm goes off?

If your CO alarm goes off, follow these steps to be safe:

  1. Evacuate all occupants from the home immediately without ventilating.
  2. Call 911 from a safe location.
  3. Do not re-enter the home until you are told by FES it is safe.

Home escape plan map

Home escape planning

During a fire, seconds matter.

You should always have a home escape plan with two exits from every room and a safe meeting place. Practice your escape plan monthly to ensure you and your loved ones know what to do in case of a fire.

Make a home fire escape plan with your family so that you know what to do in case of an emergency and how to escape a fire.

Tips for creating a home escape plan
  • Ensure that all exists are not being blocked and have two ways out for every room
  • If someone in your home has a disability, develop a home fire escape plan that considers their unique needs. Determine who will be responsible for helping young children, older adults and anyone who needs assistance to escape.
  • Choose a meeting place outside that is a safe distance from your home where everyone can be accounted for
  • If you get caught in smoke, get low and go towards the nearest safe exit to avoid smoke inhalation
  • Call 911 from outside of your home using a cell phone or your neighbours phone
  • Once out, stay out. Never re-enter until you're advised it is safe to do so
  • Practice your plan at night when children are sleeping

Fire extinguisher in kitchen

Extinguishing a fire

In some cases, you are able to use a fire extinguisher to put out a small fire in your home. Never put yourself or anyone in danger if the fire is too large or smoke becomes a hazard.

It's easy to remember how to use a fire extinguisher if you can remember the acronym PASS, which stands for 

  1. Pull (the pin)
  2. Aim (the hose/nozzle)
  3. Squeeze (the handle)
  4. Sweep (use a sweeping motion to cover the flames)

If you're unsure of what to do, get everyone out of your home and call 9-1-1.

What kind of fire extinguisher do I need in my home?

A portable fire extinguisher can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or containing it until the fire department arrives. A dry chemical fire extinguisher (class ABC) is recommended in all kitchens.

Because fire grows and spreads so rapidly, the number one priority is to get out safely.​​

Can I put out a fire in my home using a garden hose or bucket of water?

Never attempt to put out a fire in your home, especially if it is large.

By not calling 911 immediately, you will delay the fire crews' response, which then allows the fire to grow much larger and more dangerous. A fire doubles in size every 30 seconds. ​

fire hydrant with surround snow removed

Keep hydrants clear

For your safety and the safety of your neighbours, it is important to keep hydrants clear and free of any obstructing in the event of an emergency. If there is a fire hydrant in front of or adjacent to your property, please ensure the hydrant is always kept free and clear of snow and long grass. 




Fire prevention inspections

Our Prevention Inspectors can help you with personal inspections, test fire protection systems, review and help with creating fire safety plans and ensure compliance with the Ontario Fire Code.

You can contact our prevention staff and book an inspection by calling 905-853-8842.

A message from the Office of the Fire Marshal

The Office of the Fire Marshal released a video on September 28, 2022, pleading with Ontarians to check, replace, or install working smoke alarms on every level of their home and outside of all sleeping areas.

WARNING: This content may be disturbing or distressing to those dealing with trauma. This chilling audio reveals the mere seconds you have in the event of a fire. That missing sound could be the difference between life and death.