Ask the Expert: Fire Safety in Canada

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In June of 2017, a massive fire destroyed a 24-storey apartment building in the UK. The quick spread of the fire was catastrophic and resulted in over 80 deaths as well as widespread criticism and questions surrounding the safety of the building itself.  

We recently sat down with Jordan, our Fire and Life Safety Specialist for Skyline Living, to find out what has been done to prevent a fire of this magnitude at any of our Skyline Living buildings.

Could a similar fire happen at a Skyline Living building?

Jordan - It is extremely unlikely that a fire of this magnitude would occur in a Skyline Living building because in Canada, national and provincial building and fire codes are much more strict and layout detailed requirements which inhibit the spread of fire in residential apartment buildings. Skyline Living adheres to all these codes, including the maintenance of firewalls and fire separations which are used to confine a fire to a small portion of the building, allowing the fire department adequate time to respond.

What does Skyline Living do to help prevent fires?

Jordan – Skyline Living takes a proactive approach when it comes to fire safety. All of our buildings comply with building and fire codes and all of our staff meet and exceed minimum requirements for testing and inspections. The regulations in place are designed specifically to prevent catastrophic disasters such as the fire at Grenfell Tower in the UK this past June

What can residents do to help avoid a fire?

Jordan - Residents can play a critical role in fire prevention. The top causes of residential apartment building fires are unattended cooking and unsafe smoking practices. Residents should remember to never leave the stove unattended while cooking and should never smoke in bed. It’s also very important that residents test their smoke alarm monthly and familiarize themselves with the building’s specific emergency procedures.

In case of fire, what safety measures are taken to prevent it from spreading?

Jordan - The spread of fire is largely impacted by barriers called firewalls and fire separations. These barriers are designed to prevent the spread of fire between certain areas of a building for a prescribed period of time. Skyline Living adheres to the applicable building codes that determine where firewalls and fire separations are required and they are placed strategically to minimize the impact of a fire.

If there is a fire, what should residents do?

Jordan - Occupant emergency procedures are specific to each building as described in the building’s fire safety plan. The procedures are distributed to residents and are posted throughout buildings. The specific emergency procedure detailed in the building’s fire safety plan is created in conjunction with the Fire Department and implemented in order to maximize the safety of the occupants and all occupants should be familiar with this procedure.  If residents have any questions they can always speak to their Resident Manager.

Some general rules to follow in a fire situation are that, if you are physically able to do so, you should evacuate the building via stairwell as soon as possible and activate the building’s fire alarm via manual pull station. If you encounter smoke, use an alternate exit. Never use the elevator to evacuate

Picture9Residents learn about fire safety at the annual BBQ in Kingston.