Keep Your Community Fire Safe

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Most fires in our communities occur at home; while they may start small, they can grow fast. Every second counts for getting you and your family out of your home and ensuring quick access to Markham firefighters.

Home fire

House numbers are not only convenient for finding addresses, but are necessary for emergency responders to locate those in need. When responding to an emergency, minutes matter so be sure that fire, ambulance, and police can easily and quickly find your address.

Markham Firefighter

Be a Good Citizen. Keep Entries and Exits in Homes Clear.

Ensure all entries and exits in your home are

Most fires in our communities occur at home; while they may start small, they can grow fast. Every second counts for getting you and your family out of your home and ensuring quick access to Markham firefighters.

Home fire

House numbers are not only convenient for finding addresses, but are necessary for emergency responders to locate those in need. When responding to an emergency, minutes matter so be sure that fire, ambulance, and police can easily and quickly find your address.

Markham Firefighter

Be a Good Citizen. Keep Entries and Exits in Homes Clear.

Ensure all entries and exits in your home are cleared from snow and obstacles so you can escape!

In a fire, every second counts!

Ice build up on window

A freezing moment

When the surface temperature outside the window goes below the dew point, water vapour changes from a gas to liquid. During cold winter months, condensation is likely to form and freeze on window panes and in any gaps or openings around your windows and doors. It takes more time to force open frozen windows, doors and gates.

If windows are frozen shut, they may not be an option for a second way out and you'll need to find another! Fire safety is your responsibility in your home and that includes making sure every family member in your home can safely escape in the event of a fire or emergency.

Firefighter cutting icy gate

Keep Fire Hydrants Clear

Barrier-free fire hydrant

Don't play hide and seek with fire hydrants! In order to provide efficient fire protection for you and your neighbours, don't hide our water supply. Markham firefighters need to locate and access fire hydrants quickly to put the fire out. By connecting a hose to a hydrant, firefighters gain access to all the water they need to douse a burning house, structure or vehicle.

Finding and accessing fire hydrants in the event of an emergency is critical and can mean the difference between a little or a lot of property loss. Your assistance is needed in keeping the hydrants clear of obstructions, like snow, shrubs and debris. There needs to be at least 1.2 metres (3ft) clearance around the fire hydrant. Keep snow, bushes, fencing, tree branches, weeds or other obstacles away from the hydrant.

Be a good neighbour and assist those in need on your street who have a fire hydrant on their property, but may not be able to keep their hydrant clear on their own.

Learn more about how to Love Your Hydrant!

Firetruck on scene in the winter

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Family and carbon monoxide alarm

Keep your family fire safe. Check the date and test your alarms.

Most fatal fires occur at night when people are sleeping. A working smoke alarm will detect smoke and sound to alert you. It is the law for all homes in Ontario to have a working smoke alarm outside every sleeping area and on every story. Carbon monoxide alarms are required outside every sleeping area. This applies to all single-family homes, semi-detached homes and town homes, whether they are owner-occupied or rented.

Multiple people living in a single-family unit? Increase your chances of survival with smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

Install more smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. When there is a fire, smoke spreads fast. When you have more working devices, you will have better early warning to make sure you get outside as quickly as possible. A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home including the basement.

Types of Smoke Alarms

With so many options, at varying prices, it’s hard knowing what type of device is best for your home. Whether you live in a newer home that’s wired for interconnected devices, an older home or a condo, here’s a helpful guide on what’s available:

Ionization smoke alarms: Generally recognized for being more responsive to fast, flaming fires that feed on combustibles like paper, grease and synthetic material.

Photoelectric smoke alarms: Generally recognized for their ability to detect smoke patterns from fires that slowly smoulder before igniting.(like a chesterfield or mattress fire)

Battery-operated smoke alarms: Typically the cheapest and easiest way to protect homes that aren’t pre-wired for interconnected devices. Battery-operated smoke alarms continue to work through power outages, if the batteries are replaced and tested regularly.

10-year battery-powered smoke alarms: Sealed, lithium battery-powered smoke alarms last for 10years, essentially the life of the alarm. They’re always on and also work through a power outage.

Hardwired AC operated smoke alarms: These devices are wired to the household’s 120V electrical circuit. They’re interconnected, so if one device detects smoke or fire, all alarms throughout the home go off simultaneously. A power outage can affect these alarms, but many are equipped with a battery backup.

Smoke alarm installation tips: Because smoke rises, most smoke alarms are installed on or near the ceiling. Always follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions.

Below is important information about installing smoke alarms in your home:

Avoid installing smoke alarms on ceilings near bathrooms, heating appliances, windows and ceiling fans.

Install alarms on every story of the home, including the basement. Larger homes may need extra smoke alarms.

Best place for smoke alarms are inside and outside of each bedroom and sleeping area. Consider installing interconnected smoke alarms – whether hard-wired or wireless – they are best because when one activates, they all sound.

Woman installing a smoke alarm

Replace smoke alarms every 10 years. This includes hard-wired, interconnected hard-wired devices and wireless devices!

A smoke alarm should be installed on the ceiling or high on a wall. Install wall-mounted alarms no more than 12 inches from the ceiling to the top of the alarm.

Don’t install smoke alarms near windows, doors, or ducts where drafts might interfere with their operation. To reduce false alarms, keep alarms at least 10 feet from a stove.

Make sure everyone in your home knows what to do if they hear a smoke alarm.

Clean your smoke alarms. Dust can clog a smoke alarm. Gently vacuum alarms every six months using a soft brush. Never vacuum electrically-connected alarms unless you shut off the power. Test your unit when finished cleaning. Check your owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning.

Ensure your family has the early detection time needed to escape a deadly fire. Check the date and test your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms monthly.

Testing smoke and carbon monoxide alarm
What should I do if I hear my neighbour's smoke alarm going off?

Smoke alarm going off

Markham Fire is calling on the entire community to be aware and help if it is safe and you are able to do so.

If you hear a neighbour's smoke alarm, check if there's a fire. If it’s safe to do so, ring the doorbell or see if there are any obvious signs that a fire may have started. Be careful and do not put yourself in any danger.

If there's a fire, or if you're not sure, call 9-1-1 and ask for the fire department. Your actions could save a life.

Guide to Calling 9-1-1When you call 9-1-1, you are our eyes and ears

  • Once you reach 9-1-1, the operator will ask questions to determine what type of help to send
  • We rely heavily on what information you can relay to us
  • Do not be scared or frustrated
  • Let the operator guide you with their questions
  • STAY CALM, STAY SAFE, STAY ON THE LINE

What should I expect when I call 9-1-1?

We will often get just enough information from you to dispatch our units to the emergency, ask you to hold the line while we dispatch our units, then return to you for more detailed information. Answering questions does not delay a response.

Here are some questions you may be asked:

  • Where is your emergency?
  • What is your emergency?
  • What is your name?
  • What is your phone number?
  • What is going on or what exactly can you see/hear?

When you are being asked questions:

  • Remain calm
  • Answers the questions you are being asked. The dispatcher requires these questions in a particular order.

Knowing an exact address is best, however if that's not available, visual indicators such as: nearest cross street, name or types of building, landmarks, or any other way of figuring out how to get to you is essential.

Never compromise your safety. Do not do anything the dispatcher tells you to do if that will put you or someone else in harm.

When calling 9-1-1 on a cellular phone, be sure to stop if you are in a moving vehicle. It is difficult to get all of the information needed if you are getting further away from the emergency.

Others questions you may be asked:

  • Are you injured/safe?
  • Can you meet the Emergency Responders and flag them down?
  • For Police: When did this happen?
  • Who is involved and descriptions of them?
  • Vehicle descriptions including license plate number and direction of travel?
  • Are there any weapons involved or available to the suspect?

Hearing impaired or non-English speaking callers:

  • If you are hearing or speech impaired, York Region 9-1-1 communications centre is equipped with a Text Telephone (TTY) device to allow communication through your TTY device.
  • If you do not speak English, all call centres are able to contact a Language Line where an interpreter is provided.
  • It is helpful if you are able to identify the language you speak in English, so AT&T can provide the appropriate interpreter.

For more information, please refer to our 9-1-1 presentation PDF.

Did You Know?

Working smoke alarms, a home escape plan and a home fire sprinkler system offer families the highest level of protection and the best chance for survival during a home fire.

Fires burn quicker, hotter, faster and more toxic than ever before, requiring fire departments to rely on new technologies to successfully prevent and fight fires.

The Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs share some important information on how a home fire sprinkler system can protect you and your family, in the event of a fire. Visit the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs website and the Canadian Automatic Sprinkler Association website to learn more.

Ask a Public Education Officer

Have a question about fire prevention and safety? Ask one of Markham's Public Education Officers right here. 

We're listening and here to help!

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