Some things to keep top of mind for condo fire safety

Question : Dear Maria; I am a new board member at my condo and I was thinking of bringing up a discussion on fire safety. What are some tips you can give on the topic?

Condominium buildings can present special fire safety concerns. When strictly enforced, local fire and construction codes can ensure that condos are designed to minimize the likelihood of a major conflagration. Fire alarm systems in condominium buildings are required to be tested annually in accordance with Alberta Law. The reason these inspections are mandatory is regular testing and maintenance of your fire alarm systems — including alarms, smoke detectors, emergency lighting and sprinkler systems — is because it saves lives in case of an emergency.

Do you know what to do if a fire starts in your condo? Here are some helpful tips that could save your life and others.

First and foremost—be prepared: Know your building and the emergency procedures that have been implemented for your condo’s fire safety plan. It is important to know where the nearest exits and stairwells are in the building as well as the fire alarms. Keep in mind that these locations may be inaccessible during a fire, so have an alternative escape plan. Establish a safe meeting place outside and away from the building. Assign a designated helper or point person for any individuals living in your unit that would require assistance to escape the fire. This could include, small children, elderly and/ or disabled individuals and of course our furry friends.

If you hear the fire alarms sound: Act, but don’t panic! Check the doorknob/handle for heat, if it’s not hot, brace yourself against the door and open slowly.  If you feel no air pressure or heat
coming from the corridor begin your exit out of the unit and to the nearest exit. Close doors behind you and activate the fire alarm by using the pull stations. Use exit stairwells and leave the
building immediately. When you are in a safe  place, telephone the fire department; never assume this has been done. Know the correct address to the condo building and never use the elevators and or return to your unit until instructed to do so

If you cannot exit the unit, close the door but leave it unlocked. Dial 911 and hang a sheet outside the window to get the firefighters attention. Use wet towels to seal any openings that the fire may make its way into the unit. Stay very close to the ground and place a wet rag over your mouth to lessen smoke inhalation. If you have a balcony, make your way to the balcony and close the
door behind you, or move to a protected area in the room and wait for rescue. If you have a cell phone bring it with you.

Fire inspection access into units: At some point, you would have received notice from your condo manager that the Fire Inspection Company requires access into your unit during the annual
fire inspection testing. Do NOT ignore this request. Part of the annual inspection is for the representative to check the smoke detectors, heat sensors and valves associated with the fire safety
devices inside your unit.

Combustibles and flammables: Do not belong inside a unit, storage facility or the parking enclosure. These can cause the risk of fire. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fire safety in condominium buildings. Help do your part to ensure compliance with Safety codes, and protect yourself and others that live in close proximity to you.