Three steps to a fire-safe home

Colourful houses in a residential neighbourhood

Your fire safety plan should include these three home fire protection, prevention and safety components:

  1. Prevention – Properly-placed smoke alarms will warn everyone in case of fire.
  2. Planning – A good fire-escape plan will lead people out safely to a common meeting area.
  3. Practise – Practise will make sure everyone in your home will follow the plan in an emergency.

Prevention

  • Install several smoke alarms in your home. Place at least one on every level. Consider installing additional alarms in bedrooms of heavy sleepers and children.
  • Connect hard-wired smoke alarms directly to the backup power system, or install a battery-powered smoke alarm on every level of your home in case of power failure.
  • Test smoke alarms every month. Replace backup batteries once a year.
  • Vacuum smoke alarms at least once every six months. Replace smoke alarms as specified by the manufacturer.
  • Make sure everyone sleeps with their bedroom door closed at night. This will help to keep fire and smoke out of bedrooms and will provide you with valuable time to make your escape.

Planning

  • Draw a floor plan of your home and identify two ways out of every room. Windows can be your second way out, but make sure that everyone can open the locks and windows easily from the inside. Any security bars on the windows must have a quick-release mechanism so you can get out safely.
  • Choose a family meeting place a safe distance from the front of your home. Call 9-1-1 to report a fire after everyone has reached the safe meeting place.
  • Make sure your plan considers people with mobility issues and young children who may require assistance from others in order to get out safely.
  • If you use mobility equipment, such as a wheelchair or a walker, make sure that it is easy for others to find if you need help.

Practise

  • Practise getting out of your home by all exits, by holding fire drills for the entire family.
  • When the smoke alarm sounds, expect that you must get out immediately. Do not stop to collect possessions or pets.
  • Always stay low to avoid smoke, and to stay in the cleanest air.
  • Feel any closed doors for heat before opening – stay low behind the door and feel the door from the bottom up to and including the door handle.
  • If the door and handle feel cool, open the door slightly and look outside. If it looks safe, then leave the building, and head for your family meeting place.
  • If the door or handle feels warm, or you see smoke or flames beyond the door, make sure it is shut and use your second escape route. If you must escape from an upper window, make sure you have a safe way to reach the ground such as a fire-escape ladder.
  • If you are trapped in a room, seal the openings around the door and vents with clothing or blankets. Call 9-1-1 and tell the fire department that you are trapped inside. If it is safe to do so, open the window, turn the light on, and signal and call for help.

Find out more about fire and life safety

Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services teach fire and life safety courses where you can learn valuable life and safety skills, and gain hands on fire extinguishing experience. Register yourself, or arrange for us to teach your group to prevent fires in your home, business, school, and other private and public places.

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Fire safety and prevention resources

The real world dangers of fire

The effects of a fire in real life are more drastic than what is shown on TV and in movies. Read about the importance of fire and life safety education.

Smoke alarms

It's a well known fact that smoke alarms (also called smoke detectors) save lives. Read our list of safety tips for installing and maintaining smoke alarms in your home.

Carbon monoxide detectors

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odourless gas that is produced by combustion. Gas and fuel burning appliances should be properly maintained to reduce the risk of CO poisoning. Find out more.

Fire extinguishers

Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services recommends ABC Extinguishers with minimum 2A10BC rating. Read about how fire extinguishers are classified by type and size of fire.

Preventing electrical fires

Electrical fires are one of the top causes of house fires in Canada. Learn electrical safety tips that will help keep your home safe.

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Your fire safety plan

Download the VFRS fire safety plan worksheet

You can download the fire safety planning worksheet, to help you draw out your home escape in the event of an emergency.

Download worksheet

Did you know?

Common home fire hazards

Most house fires start in the kitchen. Visit our visual Home Safety Guide that shows some of the common fire and safety hazards that may exist in your home.

Vancouver fire bylaw

Fire Bylaw

Summary of the City of Vancouver Fire Bylaw 11312. This bylaw contains the regulations actively enforced by Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services.

The real world dangers of fireSmoke alarmsCarbon monoxide detectorsFire extinguishersPreventing electrical fires