Do I Stay or Do I Go Now – What to Do When There is a Fire in Your Condo Building

fire in your condominium

If there happens to be a fire in your condominium; the one thing you cannot count on is for the fire department to come swooping down to the roof al la Hollywood to rescue you. Very few fire departments actually have helicopters and try to land on a building without a helipad can be very dangerous. So, what do you do? Do you try to use the stairs? Do you shelter in place? Did you know you may not have to leave your condo building in the event of a fire?

Initial Reactions

fire in your condominiumWhen a fire alarm goes off, the average person knows they are supposed to check the door for heat before opening it. But, from here things can get a little fuzzy. Do you try the elevators? What about the stairs? Everyone knows you aren’t supposed to use the elevators in a fire, but what if the stairs have smoke pouring up the stairwell?

Your first reaction might easily be to try and go higher, away from the fire. According to Toronto Fire District Chief Peter Derrington, both heat and smoke are going to continue rising up the stairwell, making it the last place you want to be. In fact, if you live in a condo above the fire, the best thing you can do is shelter in place and wait for the fire department or other emergency services personnel to arrive.

Of course, if the fire is in your unit; you should get out immediately, closing the door behind you to help keep the fire contained. But, if the fire is in another location, keep your door closed, and put a wet towel along the bottom of it. This will help keep most of the smoke outside of your apartment. If you happen to have a handy roll of duct tape or even masking tape, seal the rest of the door.

Call Emergency Services

The next step is to dial 911 and let the operator know there is a fire in your building. You also need to let them know that you are sheltering in place, your unit number, and that you have no way out. At this point, you may be thinking – “But, won’t I be trapped in my unit?

Good question, today’s condominium buildings are made from fire-resistant materials that are designed to keep the fire from spreading at a rapid rate from one unit to another. The materials used in the walls will take an hour to burn through and those used in the ceilings take two hours, giving the fire department time to reach you and get you out safely.

According to information published by the Toronto Fire Services, the average response time for a high-rise fire is approximately five minutes. In many cases, when the fire department arrives on the scene, many of the tenants are still wandering around in smoke-filled hallways. You have a much higher risk of becoming injured or dying trying to get out of the building than you do if you shelter in place. And if you think the Toronto FD is going to pluck you from the roof, perhaps you shouldn’t be watching so many movies.

Article Submitted By Community Writer

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