Fire safety

Fire alarm system

All rental apartments have a professionally installed strobe and bell integrated with the building’s fire alarm system. Should your unit alarm go off, you may silence it but the strobe light will continue to flash.  If there is not a fire in your unit and you cannot determine why the system is alerting you, contact your Site Office. The strobe and bell was installed for your safety and we ask that you treat it with care and respect.

This system is not to be tampered with under any circumstances and is not to be used to hang pictures, etc

You also have a smoke detector in your unit. The smoke detector is there to warn you. It will automatically sound the main fire alarm and the Fire Department will respond. You must be prepared to act on your own to protect yourself.

Fire drills are performed every six months. 

Smoke detectors

smoke-detectorYour unit is equipped with at least one smoke detector that is designed to give you advance warning of a fire or smoke build up. Townhouses will have a smoke detector on each floor. When the alarm sounds, it will continue until the circumstance which caused it to go off ceases.

The smoke detector must not be tampered with. 

Your smoke detector may go off if:

  • there is a fire;
  • there is a mechanical failure in the smoke detector itself;
  • excessive smoke is produced by burned food on the stove, in the oven or toaster;
  • excessive smoke is produced by people smoking in your unit;
  • the smoke detector is tampered with or accidentally struck;
  • the smoke detector is poorly maintained or requires cleaning; or
  • other abnormal conditions apply.

Smoke detectors are also located in storage rooms, hallways, stairwells, laundry rooms, service rooms, etc.

Smoke detector maintenance

Smoke alarms save lives. Follow the recommendations below for routine maintenance.

  • Test your alarm every month.
  • Vacuum the alarm every six months.
  • Never disconnect the alarm. Disabled alarms may void insurance and constitute negligence.
  • If the smoke alarm activates without any indication of fire, contact WBHDC for repairs or replacement as soon as possible.

If an alarm sounds and you are awake

If you are awake and either your smoke detector goes off or, especially, the building alarm sounds, then check immediately to see if there is a fire in your unit. If the fire is in your unit, evacuate everyone immediately. Close your unit door behind you to contain the fire!

If you are an apartment tenant and the fire conditions prompt you to go to your balcony, get a wet towel beforehand and place it on the floor under the balcony door.  The Fire Department will rescue you from the balcony.

If you are a townhouse tenant and fire is present in your unit, evacuate everyone and call 911 to notify the Fire Department immediately.

If there is no fire, try to determine the cause of the alarm. To silence the alarm, open a window and the front door to clear the air. The alarm should then reset itself and stop.

If an alarm sounds and you are asleep

Evacuate everyone from your unit immediately.  Do not wait. Do not try to investigate the cause of the alarm. Get out now. Once you have evacuated your unit, close the door behind you and call 911 to notify the Fire Department immediately. A fire evacuation route has been given to you. Do not take any unnecessary chances.

Further fire safety information for apartment dwellers

If you discover fire:

  • leave the area of danger;
  • close all doors in your path of exit to help contain the fire;
  • activate the fire alarm pull station, which is usually located near an exit;
  • phone 911 to notify the Fire Department when you are out of danger; and
  • use the stairwell only, never use the elevator.

If you hear a fire alarm:

  • turn off all appliances in your unit;
  • feel the door before opening it;
  • if the door is hot, stay inside and call 911 to notify the Fire Department and request help;
  • if the door is not hot, leave the building through the nearest exit stairwell, closing all doors behind you.

If the fire is small, you may choose to attempt to control the fire by using a building fire extinguisher. However, always activate the fire alarm and call 911 before trying to extinguish the fire. Remember, use common sense! No property or possession is worth your life.

There is a 2A-10BC dry chemical fire extinguisher located on every floor of your building. A typical fire extinguisher in your building will last approximately eight to 10 seconds. If the fire cannot be controlled with this extinguisher, it is too big for you to attempt to handle. Vacate the area immediately.

How to use a fire extinguisher


Develop a fire escape plan

Know your building: you should know where your nearest exits and fire alarm pull stations are located. Familiarization saves time. Be sure to know at least two ways out of your building in the event one is blocked by fire or smoke.


Make a simple floor plan (see the example above) of both exits and practice using both ways out. Pace off the distance to the exits. In the event of an emergency, things may be dark, so be sure you can follow your escape plan under these conditions. Familiarize yourself with the outside area and pick a meeting spot that everyone is familiar with in case you are separated. Practice evacuating your building with your family.

Smoke from a fire is toxic no matter what kind of structure you live in. Smoke inhalation during a fire causes more death and injury than fires themselves. When you hold your fire drill, all family members should practice crawling on their hands and knees to stay low under smoke, one to two feet above the ground where the air is cooler and cleaner.

If your escape routes are blocked, seal yourself in for safety. Remember, the Fire Department can rescue you from your balcony.

Building safety features

For your protection, exit doors leading to stairwells should be kept closed at all times except when they are in use. The stairwell is designed as a safe place of refuge. In the event of a fire, all residents should be able to leave their units, enter the stairwell and exit the building safely.

If stairwell doors are propped open, smoke and fire may enter the stairwell, making them impassable. For the safety of all, keep these doors closed to maintain the integrity of the fire separations that allow you a safe exit if you need it.

Always use the stairs to exit the building, never the elevator. If someone in your family has difficulty with stairs, make sure to incorporate a contingency for this into your plan.

Be sure to keep access to exits and stairwells free of storage at all times. Not only does storage make it difficult to exit the stairwell, it is also a fire hazard in itself.

If there are problems in your building, please notify the Property Administration Office immediately for corrective action. Life safety is everyone’s business. Be fire safety conscious!

Safety tips for smokers

Falling asleep while smoking, discarding smoldering cigarette butts inappropriately, using inadequate ashtrays, and smoking near flammable liquids are all hazardous activities and among the leading cause of household fires.

In Alberta homes, most smoking related fires start in the living room, family room, den or bedroom. Many of these fires are started by someone falling asleep in bed or on upholstered furniture such as a sofa while smoking. Quite often, the fire victim is also impaired by alcohol, drugs, or medication, and this prevents them from waking before they suffer fatal smoke inhalation or burns.

  • Never smoke in bed, or when drowsy from medication or intoxication. A lit cigarette that falls on a pillow, bedding or couch can start a killer fire.
  • After a party, check for fallen cigarette butts on sofas and behind cushions. Make sure they have not burned through the fabric because they could smolder for some time and later erupt into a deadly fire.
  • Flush cigarettes butts and ashes down the toilet. Do not dispose of them in the trash can.
  • Never smoke while handling flammable liquids such as gasoline, hairspray or aerosol cans.
  • Remember all matches, lighters, cigarettes, pipes and cigars are potentially dangerous. Treat them with caution and keep them out of reach of children above the “strike zone” – that is, above your shoulders.
  • Never extinguish cigarettes in a flower pot. If you smoke on your balcony, always use a large can (such as a coffee canister) filled with sand or water for an ashtray. The organic compounds in a flower pot can smolder for some time and later erupt into a fire.

Safety tips for barbecues

See “Permitted and prohibited uses and activities.”

Cooking fires

Most destructive home fires start in the kitchen. The following guidelines will help you to avoid dangerous conditions that could lead to fire or help you to manage a cooking fire should one start in your home.

  • Use an electric deep fryer with a temperature control.
  • Read the deep fryer’s manufacture instructions for safe use and safe storage.
  • Always stay in the kitchen when you are deep frying – do not leave a deep fryer alone for even one minute.
  • Grease and oil heat very quickly and catch fire without warning. Be careful.
  • Keep paper towels, dishcloths, cardboard containers and plastics away from heat sources.
  • Avoid cooking when sleepy or drowsy from alcohol or medication.
  • Turn pot handles in to prevent children from pulling them down.
  • Keep the stove top, range hood, filter and fan clean; grease build up is a fire hazard.

Putting out a cooking fire

  • It’s a good idea to have a small fire extinguisher in the kitchen to help you put out kitchen fires. A Class BC rated extinguisher (suitable for flammable liquids and electrical equipment fires) may be used for small fires.
  • Never throw water onto a cooking fire. This will cause the fire to flare and spread.
  • Always keep a lid nearby that fits the frying pan or pot. If overheated oil ignites, turn off the heat and exhaust fan, then put the lid on the pot or pan to smother the flames. The fire may quickly exhaust the supply of oxygen and burn itself out.
  • Never try to carry a pan of burning oil outside. The oil may splash over the edge and start new fires, or cause serious burns.
  • Do not pour burning oil in the sink
  • If the fire cannot be put out with a pot lid, get everyone outside and call the fire department.

Putting out an oven fire

  • Turn off the heat.
  • Close the oven door and keep it closed.
  • If necessary, use a fire extinguisher.

Candle safety

It is important to remember that a candle flame is a small fire that can easily start a large, dangerous fire.

  • Never leave burning candles unattended.
  • Never let a candle burn down to the bottom.
  • Extinguish flames that become unusually large.
  • Use non-combustible candle holders that will not tip over and are large enough to collect wax. A saucer or small plate is not an acceptable candle holder.
  • Do not place lit candles near windows where blinds and curtains may close over them
  • Do use candles in areas where children play or can easily knock them over.
  • Extinguish candles before you leave the room.