Fire Prevention / Fire Safety
Even a small fire could seriously disrupt the lives of many residents as a result of smoke and water damage or as a result of serious damage to critical building services. In August of 2018, a fire in a building on Parliament Street in Toronto was started by a failure in the building's electric services. The damage, predominately to the electrical system resulted in residents being displaced from the building for well over a year. In November of 2019 a fire in an apartment building on Gosford Blvd. Toronto resulted in one fatality and residents of the building being displaced for several months. With very little effort many fires in multi-unit residential buildings can be found where the lives of the residents were significantly impacted.
The good news is while the occurrence of a fire can be devastating, the frequency of fires in residential buildings including apartments is relatively low.
The Office of the Fire Marshal statistics for the year 2018, currently the most recent available, states there were 5,182 residential structure fires resulting with losses in property or life or both. There is no statistical data for the number of residential structures in the province but with a population of just under 14.4 million, this means 1 person in less than 2,800 experienced a loss in a structure fire in 2018. With 78 fatalities in residential structure fires in 2018 and again with the population of approximately 14.4 million people, this means there was approximately 1 chance in 187,000 that someone would die as a result of a residential structure fire.
To put this in prospective Ontario Lottery & Gaming states the chance of a ticket winning the 649 lottery top prize is 1 in 13.9 million. It may seem crazy but the chance of a person dying in a residential structure fire is approximately 75 times greater than the chances of their lottery ticket winning the top prize.
There is more good news, almost all fires can be prevented. This page and other 'safety' pages in the 'Tenant Resources' section of the website will help you keep your home safe and provide guidance should an emergency incident occur.
Portable Fire Extinguishers
For seniors the first step, the most important step is honestly determining if using a portable fire extinguisher is something you would be able to do. For example, if you walk with a cane or walker, will you be able to quickly get to a portable fire extinguisher and bring it back to the fire area before the fire has time to grow? A typical portable fire extinguisher found in building corridors weighs about 4.5kg (10lbs). Would you be able to carry and effectively use a portable fire extinguisher that weighs 4.5kg (10lbs) or more? Many portable fire extinguishers are 'dry chemical', i.e. they contain a very fine powder that creates a dust cloud when discharged in an enclosed area that can make it difficult to see and breath. Do you have any respiratory conditions or other medical conditions that would make it difficult or unsafe for you to use a portable fire extinguisher?
If you do feel absolutely confident you could safely use a portable fire extinguisher - DON'T. If you discover a fire, leave the area, close doors to contain the fire and activate the building fire alarm system.
If a fire occurs, it is likely you will be excited and may struggle to think clearly. The best way to avoid this is to plan how you would deal with a fire, practice your plan in your head or physical walk through the steps. When a fire occurs is not the time to learn how to use a portable fire extinguisher.