Nearly 100 people are killed each year in Toronto because of fires, and virtually all of these deaths could have been prevented with proper fire protection. Toronto fire codes have been developed to ensure people’s safety, but many residences are simply not up to code, and this can have deadly consequences. Is your house fire safe? Here’s a quick look at some of the residential fire codes and recommendations, as well as a few quick tips to make your home as fire safe as possible.
1. Fire Sprinkler Regulations
If you own (or live in) a multiple-unit residential building that includes more than three storeys in height, fire sprinklers are required. There are some exceptions to this rule, but, in general, if you live in a detached single family home or even a duplex, sprinklers are recommended but not required fire protection. Toronto residents, of course, are encouraged to install these sprinklers as they quickly can mitigate fire damage.
Many people mistakenly believe that the damage caused by these sprinklers will be costlier to repair than fire damage. However, if a fire breaks out, typically sprinklers only turn on in the room or rooms where fire is present, and this can reduce fire damage and inhibit the spread of a fire while keeping water damage to a minimum. Additionally, these sprinklers can contain or suppress a fire quickly, allowing more time for you and your loved ones to exit your home safely.
2. Fire Extinguisher Regulations
While businesses have many fire protection regulations regarding extinguishers, homeowners don’t have the same stringent requirements. However, it is recommended that every homeowner have an extinguisher in the kitchen, garage and basement. It is further recommended that you place an extinguisher in each bathroom as well as each bedroom. If a fire breaks out while you are upstairs sleeping and there seems to be no safe exit due to flames, a fire extinguisher can be an invaluable safety device.
3. Smoke Alarms & Smoke Detectors
Fire alarms and smoke detectors are essential components of fire protection. Toronto residents must have these devices installed on each level of their home as well as outside bedrooms or any other sleeping area. Of course, installing these devices is only half of the fire protection battle. Smoke alarms need to be in good working order at all times, but often people install these devices and forget about them. You can purchase smoke alarms and smoke detectors on our website, as well as a handy smoke tester.
We also sell carbon monoxide detectors. Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that is both colourless and odourless, but a carbon monoxide detector can protect your family from CO poisoning. We recommend installing a CO detector in the hallway outside of sleeping areas and bedrooms, although can be wise to install one on each storey of your home, even if people aren’t typically sleeping on some of the storeys.
4. Remove Knob & Tube Wiring
If you live in one of Toronto’s many older homes, this dwelling may still feature knob and tube wiring, which was common from the early 20th century until the late 1940s. This type of wiring truly cannot handle the electrical needs of a modern family, as we have many more appliances and electronic devices. Additionally, over time, these old electrical systems can deteriorate over time. If you have knob and tube wiring, hire a Licensed Electrical Contractor to inspect the system and determine whether or not your system is unsafe. Upgrading this electrical system can ensure your family’s safety, and many insurance companies won’t insure older homes with knob and tube wiring anymore.
5. Develop A Fire Safety Plan
Do all of the members of your family know what to do in case of fire? While this isn’t required by law, creating a family fire protection and safety plan and practicing with occasional drills is an excellent way to ensure that your entire family will be able to survive a home fire. If your home has multiple storeys, we also recommend that you invest in a fire ladder so that your family can escape quickly if the hallway to the downstairs exit is blocked by excessive smoke or flames.
6. Additional Safety Tips
While installing fire protection devices and extinguishers is an excellent way to ensure your safety, there are some easy ways to prevent fires from occurring in the first place. Simply cleaning out your dryer vent and turning off your dryer when you are heading up to bed or aren’t at home can prevent household fires. Dryer lint is highly flammable, and there are thousands of dryer-related fires in Canada every year. In addition to cleaning the lint trap after each dryer use, we also recommend cleaning out the vent several times per year and installing a smoke alarm in your laundry room. If you have a gas-powered dryer, it also can be wise to install a CO detector in your laundry area, as well.
Electrical issues are another common cause of house fires, so it is wise to inspect your outlets and appliance plugs from time to time. Electrical cords should be in good working order, and outlets should not feel warm to the touch. If you tend to light candles, ensure that they are placed in safe areas where they can’t be easily tipped over or reached by young children or pets. If you are a smoker, ensure that you extinguish all cigarettes completely and avoid smoking at bedtime as many deadly fires are sparked by homeowners that fall asleep whilst holding a cigarette.
Space heaters also can be a fire hazard, so we recommend that you keep these devices at least three feet away from any flammable materials, such as drapes and curtains and blankets. We also highly recommend having all chimneys and fireplaces cleaned and serviced annually, as well as your furnace.
These are just a few helpful tips that can improve your fire protection in Toronto. If you need any fire protection devices, including extinguishers, fire detectors, CO detectors, fire safety ladders or other items, the team at Tesla Fire Systems can help. We are residential and commercial fire safety experts, and can help you ensure that your loved ones are as safe as possible.