Fire Prevention

August Safety Message



Safe Student Accommodation – Tip Sheet

Information Sheet

Safe Student Accommodation 101:
11 Tips for a safe place to live

As students prepare to move into shared or rented accommodations to attend college or university, parents, guardians and students themselves should take an active role in finding a safe place to live. It is essential for caregivers and students to talk about fire and life safety. Whether returning to school or leaving home for the first time, a discussion about good fire safety practices can help to ensure this exciting time in a student’s life is not marred by a fire tragedy.

Living Safely 101 - What Every Student Should Know to Prevent Fire

  1. Look While You Cook:  Stay in the kitchen when cooking – especially if using oil or high temperatures. If a pot catches fire, have a proper-fitting pot lid handy to slide over the pot and turn off the stove. Cooking requires constant attention. Distractions like televisions, cell phones, or computers can lead to a tragic cooking fire.
  2. Candle With Care: If you use candles in your room or apartment, keep them away from anything that can burn and place them in a safe, sturdy holder with a glass shade or hurricane chimney. Place them where they cannot be knocked over and blow them out when leaving the room.
  3. Keep An Eye On Excessive Drinkers: Alcohol is a common factor in many fire fatalities involving cooking and smoking. Be aware of roommates and friends who have been drinking excessively, especially if they are cooking or smoking.
  4. Smoke Outside: Establish rules for smokers. If you permit smoking inside, use large, sturdy ashtrays that can’t be easily tipped over. Ashtrays should be emptied into a metal container not the garbage can. Check around furniture cushions after people have been smoking, especially if they have been drinking.
  5. Use Electricity Wisely: Toasters, coffeemakers and microwaves should be plugged directly into an outlet. If you must use an extension cord, buy one that is the correct gauge for the appliance and has a CSA or ULC approval mark on the label. CSA or ULC approved power bars may be used for stereo equipment, computers and lights.
  6. Clear the Clutter: Keep things that burn away from heat sources like stovetops, space heaters and electronic equipment. Tea towels and paper too close to burners can catch fire. Keep space heaters at least one metre away from bedding, furniture and curtains.
  7. Working Smoke Alarms: It’s the Law: Your room or apartment must have working smoke alarms. Test them monthly and notify the landlord immediately if they’re not working. Dead batteries must be replaced right away. Nuisance alarms can be avoided by making sure smoke alarms are not located too close to the kitchen or bathroom. Consider getting a smoke alarm with a hush feature. Smoke alarms should be checked after any extended absence such as Christmas break and reading week. Never tamper with or disable a smoke alarm.
  8. Carbon Monoxide Alarms: Ontario law requires all homes/apartments to have a working carbon monoxide alarm outside all sleeping areas if there is a fuel-burning appliance or fireplace in the home/apartment. If the building has a service room or a garage, carbon monoxide alarms must be installed outside each sleeping area of all apartment units above, below and beside the service room or garage. If there is a service room, a carbon monoxide alarm also must be installed in the service room. Contact the local fire department for more information.
  9. Plan To Escape: Know two ways out of your room or apartment in case of fire.  Identify all exits and make sure you can use them. If you live in a highrise, familiarize yourself with the building’s fire safety plan. If you discover fire, call the fire department from a safe location outside.
  10. Be Equipped: To stay safe, all students should put together a package that includes a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm, a battery powered lantern or flashlight and radio, extra batteries and a CSA or ULC approved power bar.
  11. Learn More: For more information about fire safety in student accommodations, contact your local fire department or visit:


Student Accommodation

A Parent’s Guide to Finding Fire-safe Accommodation

Smoke Alarms
It is the law in Ontario to have working smoke alarms on every storey and outside all sleeping areas. The law applies to single family, semi-detached, town homes and apartments (including basement apartments), whether owner-occupied or rented. Rooming houses have specific regulations about smoke alarms or fire alarm systems. In addition to smoke alarms within each unit or suite, apartment buildings and student residences operated by the school may also have a building fire alarm system. Make sure the landlord, administrator or superintendent identifies and explains the fire alarm and detection features in the building and unit.

Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Ontario law requires all homes/apartments to have a working carbon monoxide alarm outside all sleeping areas if there is a fuel-burning appliance or fireplace in the home/apartment. If the building has a service room or a garage, carbon monoxide alarms must be installed outside each sleeping area of all apartment units above, below and beside the service room or garage. If there is a service room, a carbon monoxide alarm also must be installed in the service room. Contact the local fire department for more information.

Fire Separations
Students often find accommodation in older homes that have been converted to apartments or rooming houses. At the time of the conversion, a building permit should have been obtained to ensure that fire safety features such as proper exits and fire separations between units are provided. Ask the owner if the property complies with the Building Code and Fire Code and to explain the fire safety features.

It is important to consider how people will escape from a room or apartment in an emergency. Every room or apartment requires adequate exits that will permit unobstructed escape from the building. Make sure to ask the landlord or superintendent to identify all of the designated exits. All windows and doors should open fully and easily. Stairways and hallways must not be used for storage as this can pose serious fire safety hazards. Furniture and other obstacles can physically block exits and may fill hallways or stairways with smoke if they catch fire. This practice must be strictly avoided.

Fire Escape Plans
In a fire emergency, everyone must know what to do and where to go. Large apartment buildings and student residence 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 its 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.

Some property owners install bars on windows as a security measure. While this may seem appealing from a security point of view, it can prevent students from escaping in an emergency situation. Security bars on windows should be equipped with a quick-opening device on the inside so the bars can be removed quickly.

Electrical Safety
Many buildings offering lodging to students are older homes that may not have upgraded wiring. Outlets in bathrooms or within one metre of the kitchen sink should be the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) type. Consider the number and location of electrical outlets in the room or apartment. There should be enough outlets so that appliances such as lamps, computer equipment and stereos can be operated without the use of extension cords. If extension cords cant be avoided, use multi-outlet power bars that are approved and provide surge protection and a circuit breaker. Make sure that electrical cords of any kind are not concealed under carpets or rugs where they can be easily damaged. Avoid overloaded circuits and octopus wiring.

For more information:
Contact the administration offices of the college or university. They will frequently maintain a registry of available accommodation for students. Call the local fire department to determine if the building has been inspected for Fire Code compliance.

Fire Safety Basics for Student Accommodation

When young people attend college or university, they will often be living away from home for the first time. This can be a concern for parents as they try to ensure their children will be safe when theyre not living under the same roof. The following is important fire safety information that every student should know before moving away from home. Parents should discuss these basic fire safety rules with their kids before dropping them off at their new dwelling.

Cooking is the number one cause of home fires in Ontario. If the student’s accommodation has cooking facilities, there are some basic fire safety rules they must follow to prevent cooking fires:

  • A stovetop fire can start in a flash, so stay in the kitchen when something is cooking on the stove.
  • Keep all combustible items a safe distance away from the stove. This includes tea towels, wooden or plastic spoons and paper towels.
  • Keep a pot lid near the stove to smother flames if a fire starts in a pot.

The use of candles is becoming more and more popular, especially among young people. To prevent candle fires:

  • Use tea lights or votive candles in non-combustible containers as they are generally a safer choice than tapers.
  • Place the candles in a location where they cant be knocked over or come in contact with combustible items.
  • Blow out all candles before leaving the room or going to bed.

Space Heaters
The central heating systems in older accommodation is often supplemented with space heaters. To prevent heating fires:

  • Keep the space heater at least one metre away from anything that can burn, such as paper, bedding, furniture and curtains.
  • Turn off the space heater before going out or going to bed.

Social Gatherings
Parties are as much a part of student life as attending classes. While most student parties are harmless fun, the consumption of alcohol combined with cooking or smoking can create a serious fire risk. To minimize the risk of fires during or after parties:

  • Avoid over-crowding. The more people attending the party, the easier it is to lose control of the situation.
  • Encourage guests to smoke outside. Consider putting up no smoking signs that direct guests to an outside smoking area.
  • Refrain from burning candles during parties. They can easily be knocked over or ignite nearby combustibles, unnoticed.

Fires caused by smoking can be deadly. Even if they don't smoke themselves, chances are the student will have friends that do. To prevent smoking fires:

  • Encourage smokers to go outside.
  • Keep large, deep ashtrays on hand that will reduce the risk of ashes and cigarette butts falling onto rugs or upholstery.
  • Allow ashes to cool completely before disposing.

Electrical Equipment
Overloaded circuits and octopus wiring are dangerous electrical hazards that can be avoided. To prevent fires caused by electrical equipment:

  • Use an approved power bar with a circuit breaker and surge protector to plug in computer and stereo equipment.
  • Avoid the use of extension cords as permanent wiring.
  • Make sure electrical cords are not concealed under carpets or rugs where they can be easily damaged.

Smoke alarms
If a fire does occur, it is critical that the dwelling have working smoke alarms to alert occupants as soon as possible.

  • The responsibility for smoke alarm installation and maintenance lies with the homeowner or landlord, however it is a good idea for parents to provide their child with a smoke alarm for his or her bedroom.
  • It is against the law for tenants to disable or tamper with a smoke alarm.
  • If a smoke alarm activates due to steam from the shower or cooking on the stove, oven or toaster, ask the landlord to move the alarm to a different location, or to install a smoke alarm with a pause feature.

Fire Escape Planning
When the smoke alarm sounds, everyone must know what to do and where to go. Encourage
students to develop a fire escape plan, keeping the following in mind:

  • Know two ways out of every room, if possible. The first way out would be the door, while the alternate escape could be a window that can be exited safely. Make sure all designated escape routes are accessible and free of clutter.
  • Leave the building as quickly as possible. Once outside, do not re-enter the building for any reason.
  • Call 9-1-1 from outside the building using a cell phone or neighbours phone.


    Fire Prevention

    The Lincoln Fire Rescue and Emergency Services Department provides a wide range of fire prevention programs from public education to code enforcement. The fire prevention office is responsible for fire safety inspections, community fire risk assessments, fire cause and origin investigations, site and building plans examinations, and public education.

    Our Fire Prevention Officers can be reached by email at or by telephone 905-563-8205.

    Fire Safety Inspections

    If you would like an Inspection of your building you can request an inspector by using the following form fire safety inspection request form. Complete the form and either mail with payment by cheque to:

    Town of Lincoln Fire Prevention Office
    4800 South Service Road
    Beamsville, ON L0R 1B1

    or alternatively bring it to the Town of Lincoln municipal office with payment in debit, cash or cheque. 

    Please note the Town of Lincoln does not accept credit card payment for inspections.

    Town of Lincoln Fees for services By-law sets the costs for fire inspections.  A copy of the by law can be found by clicking this link Town of Lincoln Fees for Service By-Law
    If you are aware of an IMMEDIATELY LIFE THREATENING fire code violation you are advised to contact the fire prevention office directly. Inspections are done on a regular, request or complaint basis.

    Fire Safety Education

    Lincoln Fire Rescue & Emergency Services offers information on a variety of important safety topics, everything you need to know to keep you, your family, and your neighbors safe from fire and related hazards. Browse the categories below to find the topic you're looking for.

    •    TAPP-C The Arson Prevention Program for Children

    •    Fire Safety Information for Teens heading out on their own
    •    Home Escape Plans

    •    Safety tips for the Holiday Seasons

    •    Cooking Safety

    •    Carbon Monoxide

    •    Smoke Alarms
    •    Older Adult Fire Safety

    Fire Code Enforcement

    • The Town of Lincoln fire prevention division has a responsibility to enforce the requirements of the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 97 (FPPA) to ensure a minimum level of Life Safety is maintained in the various occupancies in the town. Enforcement of the FPPA and all of its regulations is taken very seriously.
    • It is the responsibility of a property owner to ensure that all applicable regulations and statutes are complied with. Property owners who fail to ensure that their properties meet the minimum standards of fire and life safety can be charge under the Provincial Offences Act and are subject to penalties as outlined in the FPPA. These fines can be up to $50,000 for an individual, imprisonment for a term of not more than one year, or both, or $100,000 for a corporation​

    Town of Lincoln By-Laws 

    Open Air Burning

    • An “open air fire” is defined as a fire in any open place, yard, field or area which is not contained or enclosed by a building or structure, and includes agricultural fires, outdoor fireplaces and chimineas, bonfires, and campfires.
    • Open air burning in the Town of Lincoln is regulated by By-Law No. 2013-03 and requires a valid Open Air Fire Permit. Permits are available from the Town of Lincoln Municipal Offices at 4800 South Service Road, Beamsville. There is a $30.00 application fee to cover administrative costs.  There is no fee for a Farm Permits on lands zoned for agricultural purposes used for bona fide farming operations.  Open Air Fire permits are valid for the calendar year, and expire on December 31 of each year. 
    • Barbecues, gas-fired appliances, and fires of limited size covered by a metal screen or grate and used strictly for the purpose of cooking do not require an Open Air Fire Permit.
    • A summary of the rules for open air burning are printed on the back of the Open Air Fire Permit, and can be viewed here: Burn Permit Quick Reference 
    • Please burn safely and responsibly. Setting or maintaining an open air fire without a permit, or in contravention of the By-Law is a violation of the Fire Code, which may result in prosecution and fines and/or imprisonment upon conviction. In addition, if the fire department is required to respond to extinguish an unlawful open air fire, cost recovery fees of $650 per vehicle dispatched for each hour or part will be charged.
    • Town of Lincoln By-Law 2013-03 sets out fees for ticketable offences.​

    Fire Lanes and Parking Bylaw

    • Be aware that there are enforced restrictions throughout the town related to public parking and fire lane access. Signs post where parking is disallowed related to general parking as well as fire lane access. Illegally parked vehicles that may impede timely and efficient emergency equipment access will be ticketed by By-Law Enforcement Officers.  

    Smoke Alarms

    Smoke Alarms are the single most important tool towards combating loss of life due to fires. These simple yet cost effective alarms have saved countless lives and millions of dollars in property loss. The installation and maintenance of these devices is essential in protecting your family. Additionally, the design, practice and use of a very basic home evacuation plan in the event of a fire may be the difference between life and death. A working smoke alarm on every level of your home is required by Ontario law.

    Where should I install my smoke alarm?

    The smoke alarm should be installed between each sleeping area and the remainder of the building or where a sleeping area is served by a hallway, install the alarm in the hall. Always install the smoke alarm on or near the ceiling in accordance with the manufacturer's installation instructions. (see diagram)


    All Ontario homes must have a working smoke alarm on every storey and outside all sleeping areas. The Ontario Building Code requires newer homes to have smoke alarms in all bedrooms.  The fire department strongly advices the installation of smoke alarms in bedrooms of all homes as well.  It is hoped there will be a reduction of the number of preventable fire-related injuries and fatalities. 

    How do I maintain my smoke alarm?

    Smoke alarms must be maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Models are available with limited battery life, life of the alarm batteries, hardwired to your household electric wiring or a combination so it is important that you read and follow the maintenance instructions for your smoke alarms.

    Dust can clog a smoke alarm, so carefully vacuum the inside of a battery powered unit using the soft bristle brush. If electrically connected, shut off the power and vacuum the outside vents only. Restore power and test the unit when finished.

    Smoke alarms do wear out, so if you think your alarms are more than 10 years old, replace them with new ones.

    Smoke Alarm – Landlords and Tenants

    • Landlords are responsible for installing and maintaining Smoke alarms in their rental units
    • Landlords are required to test Smoke alarms in rental units annually and when changes are made to the electric circuit or a change of tenancy occurs.
    • Landlords are required to provide tenants with smoke alarm maintenance instructions.
    • Tenants must not remove the batteries or tamper with Smoke alarms in any way.
    • Tenants are required to inform the Landlord when a smoke alarm is disconnected; not working or the operation has been impaired in any way.
    • Smoke alarms must be tested every month by pressing the test button.

    Any person who disables a smoke alarm will be charged under the Provincial Offences Act.

    Carbon Monoxide

    Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas that you can’t see, smell or taste. It is produced by gas or oil furnaces, space and water heaters, clothes dryers, ovens, wood stoves and other household appliances that run on fuels such as wood, gas, oil or coal. Carbon monoxide poisoning is the number one cause of accidental poisoning deaths in North America. 

    Over 80% of CO-related injuries and deaths in Ontario occur in the home (source: TSSA).

    Why is carbon monoxide so deadly?

    When you inhale CO, it can cause brain damage, suffocation or death. Because you cannot see, smell or taste this deadly gas, poisoning can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere. Everyone is at risk but pregnant women, young children, senior citizens and people with heart and lung problems are at greater risk.

    Warning signs

    CO poisoning and the flu seem a lot alike at first. Early warning signs of low-level poisoning include tiredness, headaches, dizziness, nausea or vomiting and shortness of breath. Your skin may also turn pink or red. If you experience any of these symptoms, you may be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning and should call 9-1-1 as well as talk to your doctor.

    Carbon Monoxide Law

    Carbon monoxide alarm installation requirements

    • If your home has a fuel-burning appliance, a fireplace or an attached garage, install a carbon monoxide alarm adjacent to each sleeping area.
    • If there is a fuel-burning appliance in your condo/apartment, install a carbon monoxide alarm adjacent to each sleeping area.
    • If your building has a service room, carbon monoxide alarms must be installed in the service room and adjacent to each sleeping area above, below and beside the service room.
    • If your building has a garage, carbon monoxide alarms must be installed adjacent to each sleeping area above, below and beside the garage.
    • For added protection, install a carbon monoxide alarm on every storey of the home according to manufacturer’s instructions

    Fuel-burning appliances include furnaces, hot water heaters, gas or wood fireplaces, portable fuel-burning heaters and generators, barbeques, stoves and vehicles.

    “adjacent to each sleeping area” means the hallway serving or area outside the sleeping area. For instance, a CO alarm must be installed in the hallway adjacent to multiple bedrooms in a house or apartment. However, there may be situations where “adjacent to each sleeping area” refers to the area around the bed, within the bedroom or sleeping area itself.

    Compliance with the legislation will be phased-in:

    • Homeowners and property owners/tenants in buildings that contain no more than 6 suites must comply as of April 15, 2015.
    • Residential occupancy owners of buildings with more than 6 suites have 12 months to comply (October 15, 2015).
    • CO alarms that have already been installed must be maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.

    Carbon Monoxide Alarm Maintenance

    Have a qualified service technician inspect and clean your fuel-burning appliances, furnace, vent pipe and chimney flues once a year. Bird’s nests, twigs and old mortar in chimneys can block proper ventilation and lead to build-up of carbon monoxide gas in the home.

    Test your carbon monoxide alarm regularly to make sure it is operating properly. The owner’s manual should tell you how to test your alarm. Remember to check the manual for information on when to buy a new carbon monoxide alarm.

    What should you do if the Carbon Monoxide Alarm sounds?

    If the alarm sounds, you and all members of your household should leave your home immediately. From outside the home, call 9-1-1. Don’t go back inside until the problem has been found and corrected. Fire Service personnel will inspect your home to find the source of the carbon monoxide.

    Carbon Monoxide Alarms – Landlords and Tenants

    • Landlords are responsible for installing and maintaining CO alarms in their rental units
    • Landlords are required to test CO alarms in rental units annually and when the battery is replaced, changes are made to the electric circuit or a change of tenancy occurs.
    • It is against the law for tenants to remove the batteries or tamper with CO alarms in any way.
    • Test CO alarms every month by pressing the test button.
    • Replace batteries every year.
    • Replace CO alarms according to manufacturer's instructions

    Student Safety

    Lincoln Fire Rescue & Emergency Services is proud to have supported and be a part of Niagara College, Brock University, the Niagara Regional Fire Chiefs Association and the Ontario Municipal Fire Prevention Officers Association, Niagara Chapter with the Knowfire fire safety awareness program for young adults who are venturing out into the world on their own for the first time. For more information on this program please follow the link: Knowfire

    4800 South Service Road
    Beamsville, Ontario
    L0R 1B1

    TEL: 905-563-8205
    FAX: 905-563-6566
    Emergency After-hours: 905-641-0971

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