Apartment & Condo Fire Safety

People living in an apartment or condominium building need to think ahead and be prepared in the event of a fire. It is important to know the fire safety features in your building and work together with neighbors to help keep the building as fire-safe as possible.

Quick Facts

  • Most residential fires occur at night when condos and apartments are most heavily populated.
  • Smoking is the #1 cause of all fatal apartment fires. 
  • Nearly a third of fires are caused by someone smoking in bed.
A fire consumes an apartment building.

Apartment Fire Safety Tips

Prevention 

  • Meet with your landlord or building manager to devise fire safety plans for your building.
  • Be careful with smoking materials. Keep large ashtrays for smokers and never smoke in bed!
  • Check regularly for electrical hazards, such as worn electrical cords, overloaded extension cords and outlets, and broken appliances.
  • Don’t store flammable liquids in your home, car, or anywhere else inside your building.
  • Don’t use balconies, porches, fire escapes or furnace rooms for storage. Fires starting in these areas can burn undetected.
  • Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children. Store matches and lighters in a locked cabinet up high out of the reach of children.

Detection

  • Verify that fire detection systems Are working.
  • Smoke detectors and fire alarms alert you to a fire right away.
  • Be sure your building has a working fire alarm system and learn to recognize the sound of the alarm. 
  • Know where the alarms are located in your building and how to operate them in an emergency. 
  • Install smoke alarms on every floor of your own unit. 
  • Be sure to place alarms on the ceiling near bedroom areas. 
  • If smoke detectors in your own unit or in public hallways are beeping, have their batteries changed or electrical systems checked. Replace dead batteries immediately. 

Escape Planning & Practice 

  • In a fire, there is no time to stop and think. Make and practice fire escape plans. 
  • Fire escape plans should be posted in visible, high-traffic areas, such as near elevators, exit doors, and foyers. 
  • Decide on outside meeting place. A designated outside meeting place will help keep track of who is out and who may be trapped inside. If you think someone is trapped, tell the fire department; do not go back into the building. 
  • Practice fire escape plans as a group. Appoint a floor captain and hold a fire drill to make sure everyone knows the rights thing to do when the alarm sounds.

What To Do If Fire Strikes 

  • Call 9-1-1. 
  • If no smoke is coming into the room you are in, open a window slightly both at the top and the bottom. Stay low and wave a bright cloth, towel, or sheet out the window to signal your location.
  • Don’t rush out of your apartment into the hallway. First, feel the door. If it is hot, use another way out. If the door is cool, leave by the nearest exit.
  • If an announcement can be heard over your building’s public address system, listen carefully and follow directions.
  • If you can’t escape your apartment, stuff wet towel, sheets, or clothes around the door and vents to keep smoke out.
  • If your planned escape route becomes smoky, get down on your hands and knees and crawl. Smoke rises, so the cleanest air is near the floor.
  • Never go back into the building. Go directly to your planned meeting place and stay there. If you think someone is trapped inside, notify the fire department.
  • Never use elevators in a fire! Use the stairs. Close all doors behind you to slow fire spread.

Remember, by accepting responsibility to keep your apartment or condo fire safe, you are not only protecting yourself, but your neighbors as well. A little bit of planning and awareness can make the difference between safety and disaster… for everyone! 

Downloadable Resources