Life Safety


 Business Owners

Business owners are responsible for the maintenance of their space and for ensuring the business operates with respect to fire safety. In addition to practicing the three lines of defence against fire — Prevention, Detection, Escape — business owners have specific requirements under the Ontario Fire Code.

Definition of Owner

The Ontario Fire Code defines “owner” as any person, firm or corporation having control over any portion of the building or property under consideration and includes the person in the building or property. Therefore, whether a business owner owns the building, or simply operates a business within a building, business owners have obligations with respect to fire safety for which they can be held accountable.

The Fire Protection and Prevention Act allows a Fire Prevention Officer to enter and inspect without a warrant any land or premise for the purpose of assessing fire safety. The power to enter and inspect can be exercised at all reasonable times.

Fire Code

The mission of all Fire Departments is Fire and Life Safety. The Ontario Fire Code is recognized as a minimum standard to which buildings and businesses must adhere. In every inspection compliance with The Ontario Fire Code is our ultimate goal. Once a building or business is recognized by a Fire Prevention Officer to be in contravention of the Ontario Fire Code, the Officer will issue an Order or an inspection report identifying the offence and a date by which the deficiency must be remedied.

Violations & Consequences

  • Sometimes, the severity of the offence or the tendency of the business or building to be continually out of compliance causes the Fire Department to pursue penalties under the Provincial Offences Act by means of issuing a ticket, or by serving a summons requiring a person or business to appear in Provincial Offences Court.
  • In these cases, if found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario Fire Code a person or a director of a corporation can be liable to a fine up to $50,000. The Corporation can be liable to a fine of up to $100,000.

Keeping Records

When tests or corrective measures required by the Fire Code are carried out such as:

  • Annual inspections of smoke and CO alarms
  • Emergency lighting tests
  • Fire alarm annual inspections
  • Sprinkler annual inspections
  • Portable extinguisher annual inspections
  • Commercial kitchen suppression system 6-month inspection

A copy of the records must be maintained at the building for examination by the Fire Department if requested. Records of maintenance, checks, tests and inspections like those listed above must be maintained for at least 2 years after being prepared.

Fire safety Plans

The Ontario Fire Code, Div. B, Section 2.8 provides for the required preparation, approval, and implementation of a fire safety plan for most buildings and occupancies.


Every person is responsible for their own fire safety. It is everyone's responsibility to implement and practice the three lines of defence against fire: Prevention, Detection, Escape. 


Check your home for fire hazards and eliminate them. 

  • Keep all areas of the home, garage and yard clear of rubbish and combustible waste.
  • Clean the dryer lint trap before each use and the whole dryer vent at least yearly
  • Ensure containers for flammable liquids, solvent, adhesives and pressurized aerosol cans are approved and stored according to manufacturer recommendations.
  • Store gasoline-powered equipment outside of the house


Smoke Alarms 

Working smoke alarms are important, its the law to have them on every floor of your home and outside sleeping areas. Remember; while installation and maintenance by the Ontario Fire Code, this code is the minimum standard. 

  • If you have family members sleeping on different levels of the home, consider interconnected alarms so that when one rings, they all ring. 
  • If you have family members who require assistance to escape during an emergency, install extra alarms so when a fire is small enough you can get to them and all escape safely. 

Carbon Monoxide 

The Ontario Fire Code now requires every home that has a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning instal a CO alarm outside of sleeping areas. 


If a fire occured in your home tonight, would your family get out safely? Everyone must know what to do and where to go when the smoke alarms sounds. Take a few minutes with everyone in your household to make a home fire escape plan. Print out an escape plan template.

Draw a floor plan
Your plan should include a drawing of each level of your home, and all possible emergency exits. Draw in all doors, windows and stairways. This will show you and your family all possible escape routes at a glance. Include any features (such as the roof of a garage or porch) that would help in an escape.
Show two ways out of every room, if possible
The door is the main exit from each room. Identify an alternate escape route, which could be a window, in case the door is blocked by smoke or fire. Make sure all windows can open easily and that everyone knows how to escape through them to safety. If windows have security bars, equip them with quick-releasing devices.
Decide in advance who with assist others 
Does anyone need help to escape? Decide in advance who will assist the very young, older adults or people with disabilities in your household. A few minutes of planning will save valuable seconds in a real emergency.
 Choose a meeting place
Choose a meeting place a safe distance from your home that everyone will remember. A tree, street light or a neighbour’s home are all good choices. In case of fire, everyone will go directly to this place so they can be accounted for.
Call for help once escaped
Don’t waste valuable seconds calling the Fire Department from inside your home. Once you have safely escaped, call the Fire Department from a cell phone or a neighbour’s home.
Practice your escape  
Review the Plan with everyone in your household. Walk through the escape routes for each room with the entire family. Check your escape routes, making sure all exits are practical and easy to use. Then hold a fire drill twice a year and time how long it takes. In a real fire, you must react without hesitation as your escape routes may be quickly blocked by smoke or flames.

Escape Conditions for Seniors 

Many seniors still depend on escape routes that were planned when the kids were young. Update these plans with their current capabilities in mind, and practice with them. Place a telephone beside the bed, as well as a list of current medications, slippers, house keys, eyeglasses and a flashlight – anything you may need to take with you if you have to leave quickly. 

Escape Considerations for Mobility Issues

Now that you’re in, how do you get out? The most important step is to invest a few hours to pre-plan for a fire emergency. Knowing what to do in case of fire may save your life! Talk to family, friends, neighbours, and building supervisory staff about your special needs in an emergency.

 How can I protect myself?
 Depending on your physical limitations, here are some things that you can do to protect yourself from fire. In some cases, you may be able to do some of these things yourself. In other cases, you may need someone to help you.
  • Install smoke alarms
  • Ask the superintendent of your building, a friend or relative, to install at least one smoke alarm on each level of your home, especially adjacent to bedrooms, to provide early warning of fire. Make sure your alarms are tested monthly and ensure the batteries are changed at least once a year.
  • Remember 9-1-1
  • In case of fire, always attempt to get out, then call 9-1-1 and give your street address. If you can't get out, call 9-1-1 even if Fire and Emergency Service has been called or already arrived and tell them exactly where you are in the building. Don't panic. Stay calm.
  • If possible, live near ground level
  • If you live in a multi-storey home, sleep on the first floor and keep a telephone by your bed. If you live in an apartment, consider living on the ground floor. Living closer to the ground and to an exit will make evacuating easier. Also, consider having doorways widened and ramps constructed.
  • Plan and practice your escape
  • Know two ways out of every room, especially bedrooms. If one exit is a window, make sure that it opens easily. If you live in an apartment building and you are able to use stairs, map out as many routes as possible. Never take elevators to escape fire. Elevators may become trapped between floors or they may take you directly to the fire!
When fire strikes, what must i do? 
  •  Get out and stay out. If you leave the building, leave as quickly and safely as possible. Never go back in. Never return for personal possessions. They are not worth your life. Call 9-1-1 from outside.
  • Crawl low under smoke. If you can, crawl low while you exit and keep your head down. Hot toxic gases rise. The cleanest, coolest air is near the floor.
  • Keep doors closed. A closed door will help slow the spread of fire, smoke and heat. If you hear a smoke alarm, smell smoke or suspect fire, feel the door. If the door feels cool, open it just a crack to check for smoke. If there is none, leave by your planned escape route. If the door feels hot when you touch it, don't open it. Don't panic. Escape out the window or use your alternate exit.
  • If you can't leave your room or apartment, stay calm. Seal cracks around doors and vents as best as you can, using wet towels if possible. Open a window and stay low by it to breathe fresh air. If there's a phone in the room, call 9-1-1, tell them you are trapped and exactly where you are in the building. Shout for help or use a whistle and signal your position by waving a bright cloth, towel, sheet or flashlight.

In addition to practicing the three lines of defence against fire - Prevention, Detection, Escape - homeowners also have the following safety responsibilities. 

Awareness of Fire and Carbon Monoxide 

Fire is not inevitable and it is also not an accident. Over 90% of all home fires are preventable. People feel safest in their own home, yet that is where they are the most vulnerable.  Please take responsibiilty for your safety and review fire and carbon monoxide hazards

911 Civic Address Numbers

In the case of an emergency, medical emergency or fire, minutes can mean the difference between life and death. Firefighters are equipped with many tools to help improve arrival time. One of these tools is a detailed map of their designated areas. 911 civic address numbers are imperative for a quick reference. The more camouflaged and hard-to-find the numbers are, the longer it will take emergency personnel to arrive at the scene.

  • The civic address number sign, the post and the blade shall be maintained by the owner at all times.
  • The signs shall be kept in good condition, free of obstruction and always visible to oncomming traffic. 
  • No person shall move, remove, alter, deface, damage, or destroy any number blade or sign. 
  • Landlords are responsible to ensure working carbon monoxide alarms are installed and maintained in their rental properties.
  • The law requires landlords to test CO alarm in rental units annually and when the battery is replaced, changes are made to the electric circuit or a change in tenancy occurs. CO alarms must test by pressing the test button.
  • The law requires landlords to provide CO alarm manufacturer's maintenance instructions to tenants.

When it comes to fire safety within rental dwellings, both tenant and landlord have responsibilities under the  Ontario Fire Code and both parties can be changed with offences. 

Fire safety is a role that we all share. See below for information about how you can keep yourself and your family safe and what to do if you have a concern. Please also take responsibility for your safety and review fire and carbon monoxide hazards. 

Tenant Reposibilities

The Ontario Fire Code requires that every place of residence have smoke alarms installed and kept in working condition. Smoke alarms are very important for the safety of you and your neighbours by giving early warning of fire. Your landlord is responsible for installing smoke alarms and keeping them in working condition, including testing, repairs and replacement as necessary. Your landlord must also act to correct any problem or concern you report about the operation of your smoke alarm.

The Fire Code specifies that “no person shall disable a smoke alarm.” A tenant or any other person who disables a smoke alarm is guilty of a provincial offence and may be subject to a fine of up to $50,000.  

For your protection, you are encouraged to take part in ensuring that the smoke alarms are operational and to co-operate with the landlord in carrying out the necessary testing and maintenance. Tenants must notify the landlord:

  • when the low battery signal is activated (on battery-operated smoke alarms only) and make arrangements for replacement of the battery.
  • if the "power on" indicator goes out (on electrically wired smoke alarms only) and arrange for appropriate repairs.
  • if the smoke alarm is damaged and make arrangements for the repair or replacement of the unit.
  • of any electrical problems that may affect the operability of electrically wired smoke alarms.

Escape Responsibilities

In a fire emergency, everyone must know what to do and where to go. Large apartment buildings require a fire safety plan, which informs the occupants about emergency procedures. Ask the building administrator or superintendent to explain the procedures in the fire safety plan.

Smaller apartment buildings and houses that have been converted to apartments or lodging rooms may not have a fire safety plan, however it’s a good idea to ensure there are two ways out of the unit. The alternate way out can be a window that can be safely exited in an emergency. Develop and practise a home escape plan.

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