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information is a general guide for high buildings. Since each
building is unique, you should learn the approved "Fire
Safety Plan" specifically designed for your building.
is a high building?
The Ontario Building Code defines "high buildings" as
those being seven storeys or more in height.
fire safety concerns
High buildings are designed to be fire-safe. But, because they
may contain many people, and because of the building's tremendous
size, emergency response is challenging with significant potential
for major incidents.
Due to equipment
limitations, firefighters cannot rescue people from an outside
balcony or window above the seventh floor. Also, a rooftop helicopter
rescue is too dangerous. Firefighters must do interior firefighting
and rescue tactics.
I, as an occupant, protected from fire?
High buildings are designed to be more fire-safe than an average
single-family dwelling. Floors and ceilings are constructed
with fire-resistant materials and are separated into fire compartments.
The compartments act as barriers to resist fire from spreading.
High buildings contain a fire alarm system designed to alert
occupants when activated. Types of fire alarm devices include
smoke detectors, thermal detectors and sprinkler flow switches.
If you discover a fire, immediately activate a red manual pull
station near a stairwell and leave the floor. This will identify
the specific location at the lobby alarm panel to responding
firefighters. Your fire alarm system is not connected to the
Fire Services. You must always call 9-1-1. Make sure you give
your name, the correct address and location of the fire.
High buildings have interior fire-separated stairwell shafts.
Signs should be posted within stairwells indicating which floor
level you are on, and also indentify the nearest crossover
floors, if certain floors are not accessible. If you encounter
smoke while descending a stairwell, you can crossover to an
alternate stairwell. Keep stairwell doors closed at all times
to preserve the safety of these escape stairs.
High buildings contain a standpipe system, that is an interior
water supply system of fire hose cabinets on each floor for
use by firefighters. Most buildings also have portable fire
extinguishers in these cabinets.
must I take in a fire?
During a fire emergency, never attempt to leave a building by an
elevator. Heat can activate elevator call buttons, sending the
elevator to the fire floor, where dense smoke may interfere with
the elevator's light-sensitive eye and prevent the door from closing.
Also, you may become trapped in the elevator if water from firefighting
operations creates a power failure. In addition, fire fighters
require designated elevators to carry them and their equipment
to the floor below the fire.
to a fire in a high building, you must decide on two options:
- Do I leave
the building to safety? or
- Is it safer
to stay where I am?
do I take when fire is in my apartment or office?
- Alert everyone
in your apartment or office.
immediately. Close, but don't lock, all doors behind you.
the fire alarm by activating a red manual pull station on
the fire floor (when safe to do so).
- Call 9-1-1.
Never assume that someone else has already done so. Make
sure you give your name, the correct address and location
of the fire.
- Use the
exit stairwells. Don't use elevators. Don't return until
firefighters declared the apartment or office safe.
do I take when I hear a fire alarm?
- If you
choose to leave the building:
- Leave as
soon as possible
opening any door, feel the door handle and the door itself,
starting from the bottom, moving to the top. If the door
is not hot, open it slightly.
- If you
see or smell smoke, or feel or hear air pressure or a hot
draft, close the door quickly.
- If the
corridor is free of fire or smoke, take your keys, close
the door behind you, and leave the building by the nearest
exit stairwell, again closing all doors after you.
- If you
encounter smoke in a stairwell, consider taking an alternate
stairwell. Be sure to crawl low under smoke. If the alternate
is also contaminated with smoke, return to your suite.
- When you
are safely outside call 9-1-1. Never assume that someone
else has already done so. Make sure you give your name, the
correct address and location of the fire.
- If you
cannot leave your apartment/office or have returned to
it because of fire or heavy smoke:
but don't lock any doors for possible entry by firefighters.
- Seal all
cracks where smoke can enter by using wet towels or sheets.
Seal mail slots, transoms and ventilation outlets as necessary
(a roll of wide duct tape is handy).
- Move to
the balcony or to the most protected room and partially open
a window for air. Close the window if smoke enters.
- Keep low
to the floor. Heat and toxic gases rise.
firefighters by waving a white sheet or towel.
- Wait to
be rescued. Remain calm. Don't panic or jump.
for instructions or information from authorized personnel
over the building's internal speaker system.
The Toronto Fire Services recommends a high-rise survival kit for
tenants of high buildings, readily available if they become trapped
during a fire. You can purchase the following list of items for
less than $50. Having these items available for emergency use may
improve your chances of surviving a fire.
towel - Place at the base of a door.
tape - Tape over door and vent openings.
wrap - Use to cover vent openings.
- Whistle -
Use to signal for help.
- Flashlight -
Use in case of power failure, smoke, or to signal for help.
cloth - Hang up in a window, or on a balcony, to identify
marker - Use for messages on cloth, door or windows.
bedsheet - If smoke is heavy in your room, soak the
bed sheet with water and make a tent near an open window.
- Washcloth -
Place the wet cloth over your mouth and nose to aid breathing
in smoke-filled areas.
safety plan - Have a copy of your building's emergency
pail with lid - Use for storing survival equipment.
(Fill with water during a fire.)
of fire or an emergency, call 9-1-1.