Public Safety & Education
Niagara West Fire and Emergency Services provides important information on how to keep yourself and your family safe by offering fire and public safety education on a range of topics including the following:
Would you know what to do if there was a fire in your apartment building? It's important to have an emergency plan before a fire happens.
If your building fire alarm sounds
If your building fire alarm goes off, you may choose to leave the building or shelter in place if you are physically unable to leave.
Leave the building
If you choose to evacuate the building when the fire alarm sounds, be sure to:
- Check your unit door before leaving. Use the back of your hand to touch the top of the door and around the door handle. If it feels warm, do not leave and instead shelter in place
- Open your door slightly if it is cool to check the hallway for smoke. If you see smoke, do not leave and instead shelter in place
- Exit your unit and close the door behind you if the hallway is clear of smoke
- Always use stairwells, never elevators
- Always check doors for heat and hallways for smoke and use another exit if necessary
Shelter in place
If you choose to shelter in place when the fire alarm sounds in your building, be sure to:
- Keep your unit door closed but unlocked for firefighters to enter if necessary
- Seal the door completely with duct tape and place a wet towel across the bottom to prevent smoke from entering your unit
- Call 9-1-1 and tell them your location and situation
- Have something to wave out a window or balcony to show firefighters your location, like a towel or blanket
If there's a fire in your unit
If a fire starts in your unit:
- Remain calm and exit your unit, closing the door behind you
- Activate the closest fire alarm, which should be located by the exit stairs
- Leave the building using the stairwell, not the elevator
Preventing apartment fires
The most common causes of apartment fires are cooking and smoking. These types of fires are avoidable by practicing some safe habits.
Cooking fire safety tips
To avoid kitchen fires, always:
- Keep things that can catch fire like oven mitts, towels or food packaging away from your stovetop
- Stay in the kitchen when cooking
- Turn off the stove and removing pots and pans if you need to answer the door or phone
Smoking fire safety tips
To avoid fires due to cigarettes or cigarette butts, be sure to:
- Keep your balcony clear of debris
- Never butt out in potted plants, use a deep ashtray instead
- Never throw cigarettes off your balcony
- Smoke outside instead of indoors
When you are babysitting, it's important to be prepared and know what to do in case there is a fire.
In case there is an emergency like a fire, you should always know:
- The address of where you are babysitting if you need to call 9-1-1
- Emergency contact information for the adult who hired you, a neighbour or a family member
- The family's fire escape plan
- Where the child or children are in the house if you need to evacuate them
If there is a fire
If there is a fire, stay calm and follow these steps:
- Get everyone outside
- Stay outside by the designated meeting area and don't go back in for anything
- Call 9-1-1 from a cell phone or a neighbour's phone
- Give the fire department the home address and stay on the phone until they tell you it's okay to hang up
- Call the adults who hired you or another emergency contact
Babysitting courses and training
There are many course babysitters can take to gain valuable safety skills, including:
Barbecue safety tips
There are steps you can take to prevent grill fires and injuries, including:
- Keeping your grill clean, both on and below the grill surface
- Checking all propane tanks and gas lines for leaks and damage
- Placing your barbecue away from your home, deck railings and under eaves
- Making sure the grill lid is open before lighting
- Never leaving a lit grill unattended
- Using long-handled grilling utensils and heat-resistant oven mitts
- Keeping a garden hose nearby and ready for use
Balcony barbecuing safety
While the Ontario Fire Code doesn't explicitly prohibit barbecuing on balconies, you still may face liability for damage caused by a fire from a balcony barbecue. Balcony barbecuing carries more risks, such as:
- Difficulty for firefighters to access balconies to extinguish the fire
- Higher potential for leakage of propane gas and fire spread from leakage
- Higher potential for fire to rapidly spread into the building
- Higher potential for the spread of hot embers from charcoal barbecues with wind conditions
- Lack of proper electrical receptacles on balconies and the need to use temporary solutions such as extension cords, which cause associated hazards
Before you barbecue on a balcony, check your apartment or condo building's lease agreement or condo rules to see if barbecues are allowed on balconies. If they are allowed, there are some safety tips to keep in mind as barbecuing on balconies poses unique risks to you and fellow residents:
- Be considerate of where wind is blowing smoke from your barbecue
- Bring cylinders to your apartment using service elevators
- Keep cylinders outdoors
- Keep the barbecue clear of combustible material
- Make sure your balcony is open and no closures or walls have been installed
- Make sure your cylinder release valve is at least one metre horizontally from any building opening below it, and three metres from a building air intake
Check out more barbecue safety tips.
If you own a barn, you want to know how to protect it, your supplies, your equipment and most of, all your animals. There are ways you can enhance the safety of your barn and prevent fires, including:
- Having working, accessible fire extinguishers and knowing how to use them
- Clearly posting your address at each exit
- Ensuring all exits are clear of obstructions
- Installing some form of fire detection system (i.e., smoke alarms)
- Where municipal water supply exists, installing a sprinkler system
- Updating electrical and heating system
- Installing lightning rods
- Cleaning cobwebs, loose hay and dust regularly
- Enforcing a no smoking rule in or around the barn
Check out some educational resources on preventing barn fires:
Cooking is the leading cause of home fires in Ontario. Most kitchen fires are caused by distractions and leaving cooking unattended.
Preventing kitchen fires
Be fire-safe in your kitchen with these tips.
- Keep young children and pets away from stovetops.
- Never leave a pot unattended on the stove, and always use a timer you can hear when baking. If you can't hear your oven timer from a different room, set a timer on your phone and keep it with you.
- Have a fire extinguisher in an accessible place and know how to use it.
Declutter and clean
- Keep objects such as food packaging, oven mitts and utensils away from burners. When you're done cooking, remove all items from the stovetop. Wipe up spills and keep your oven clean.
Keep it cool
- Use a heat-resistant surface to cool down cookware. Hot pots can burn or melt certain surfaces, creating a fire hazard.
How to handle a kitchen fire
Use these tips to control a fire on your stovetop, oven or microwave.
Oven and microwave fires
- If a fire starts in your oven, close the oven door and turn off the heat source. For a microwave fire, keep the door closed and turn off the microwave.
- If the fire does not go out, immediately leave your home and call 9-1-1.
- Put a lid on it! Use a potholder or oven mitts to put a pot lid over the flames then turn off the heat source. Never throw water on a stovetop fire. Only ABC fire extinguishers will work on a grease fire. Don't use other types of extinguishers, as they can spread the fire.
- If the flames don't go out, immediately leave your home and call 9-1-1.
If there was a fire in your home, would you and your family know what to do?
Each minute, a fire can double in size. Having a home fire escape plan is one of the most important things you can do for your family.
If you live in a house
Your family should know your floor plan, two ways out of every room where possible and a meeting place outside.
- Draw a map of your home with your family. Practice your plan twice a year, once during the day and once at night, using different ways out.
- Know two exits out of every room. The first way out should be using the door and the second way through a window if the room has one. If you see smoke on your way out the door, use the window. If there is no window or other exit, get low and move under the smoke.
- Know where to meet outside. Make sure everyone knows where to meet outside. This could be a tree, telephone pole or a neighbour's home.
If you live in an apartment
Always use the stairs when evacuating and protect in place if fire or smoke is blocking your exit.
- Use the stairs, not the elevator. Even if elevators are working, always use the stairs to evacuate.
- Protect your family and wait for help
If fire or smoke is blocking your exit:
- Close your apartment door, but don't lock it
- Cover all cracks where smoke could enter
- Call 9-1-1 even if firefighters are already onsite and tell them your apartment number
- Wave a sheet or towel from the window to help firefighters locate you
- Stay calm and listen for instructions from fire personnel
Fire escape plan resources
If you have a disability, you may have different needs when responding to a fire emergency. Talk with your family, neighbours or building superintendent to create an emergency plan that reflects those needs.
Accessible alarm options
There are smoke and carbon monoxide alarms that are designed to be accessible for people with different disabilities.
If you are unable to hear smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, there are alternative alarm devices such as strobe light alarms and bed shaking alarms.
Long-lasting battery alarms
Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms with non-replaceable long-life batteries are designed to remain effective for up to 10 years. These can be helpful if you have difficulty changing batteries.
Easy to test alarms
Some alarms can be tested using a flashlight or remote control. These can be helpful if you have mobility challenges, are blind or have difficulty seeing.
There are things you can do to make your escape plan better suit your needs.
If you or someone you live with cannot escape alone in case of a fire, designate a member of the household or building to assist them. Have a back-up plan in case the designated helper is away at the time of the emergency.
Test Alarm Accessibility
Conduct regular fire drills to ensure everyone can hear and respond to smoke alarms. Identify any special devices or additional warning methods anyone might need.
Make Escape Easy
If your mobility is limited, consider locating your bedroom on the ground floor near an exit if possible. Keep a charged phone where you sleep and keep emergency phone numbers programmed in it.
Accessible fire safety resources
For more information, check out Ontario's Emergency Preparedness Guide for People With Disabilities
If there's a fire, should you evacuate or fight the fire with an extinguisher? Know when to fight and when to go.
When to use a fire extinguisher
Fire extinguishers are designed to contain or put out a small fire until the fire department can arrive. They are not designed for use on large or spreading fires.
Before you fight any fire, make sure that:
- You know how to use the fire extinguisher
- Everyone else has left the building and someone is calling 9-1-1
- The fire is small, confined and not spreading
- You have a clear escape route
- You have the right type of extinguisher for the type of fire that is burning
Types of extinguishers
No single fire extinguisher can be used safely and effectively for every type of fire. Some contain chemicals that will not work in certain situations and can even cause harm.
Extinguishers are labeled with symbols or letters for the classes of fire they can put out. Classes are based on what types of combustible materials are in a room. Learn the different classes of fire and check the contents of a room before buying an extinguisher for it.
Choosing an extinguisher
All fire extinguishers must be:
- Rated for the type of fire they can extinguish
- Large enough to handle the fire
- In working condition and fully charged
- Used by a properly trained person
How to use
To use an extinguisher, remember the acronym PASS:
- Pull the pin or other lever that unlocks the operating
- Aim low at the base of the fire
- Squeeze the lever or button above the handle to discharge the extinguishing agent
- Sweep the nozzle or hose from side to side
Always read the instructions that come with a fire extinguisher and learn how to use it before a fire happens.
As per 07-77, A By-Law To Prohibit and Regulate The Sale and Use of Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Special Effects Within The Town Of Lincoln, Fireworks are prohibited in the Town of Lincoln. The only exceptions are on Victoria Day and Canada Day. Fireworks are permitted two days before and seven days following these holidays.
Fireworks are enjoyable to watch, but they are explosive devices regulated by the Town of Lincoln Fireworks By-law and federal regulations. Fireworks must be used with extreme caution and care.
- Improper use of fireworks seriously injures dozens of Canadians each year
- Hot embers and falling debris from fireworks can cause property damage
- Noise from fireworks is considered a public nuisance and can disturb neighbours and pets
- Fireworks are not permitted in public parks, streets or any other public place
- During holidays when fireworks are permitted, all fireworks must be supervised by a person 18 years of age or older.
Getting ready to set off your Victoria Day or Canada Day fireworks? Learn what kinds of fireworks are permitted in the Town of Lincoln and check out our safety tips.
Firework rules: type, time and place
You must follow these rules for the sale, purchasing and use of fireworks in Lincoln:
- The only types of fireworks you can set off are low-hazard consumer fireworks, or “family” fireworks. You need a permit for high-hazard display fireworks
- You are only allowed to set off fireworks on Victoria Day and Canada Day on private property
- You must be over 18 to purchase and use fireworks
- You cannot set off fireworks within 10 m of buildings, structures, decks, vehicles or accessory buildings
- You cannot set off fireworks on any public property, including highways, streets, city parks and school yards
Fireworks display permit
The Fireworks display professional must obtain a Fireworks Permit from the Town and if professional “Class 7.2.2. high-hazard display fireworks” will be used, the federal Explosive Act requires the following:
- Submission of a Public Fireworks Display Permit application to the Town, including a complete list of all regulated explosives to be used, a diagram of the site indicating fall-out areas, and other details required by the Act.
- Provide a copy of Fireworks Supervisor Certificate of the responsible party under the Act.
- Provide written confirmation from the Director of Community Services to use Town property for the fireworks display.
- Provide proof of liability insurance of at least $5-million naming Town of Lincoln as an additional insured.
- Site inspection by Fire Prevention Officer.
The permit application must be submitted at least 10 business days prior to the show, and can be submitted to FPO@Lincoln.ca or dropped off at Town Hall, addressed to “Fire Prevention Officer”.
Payment can be dropped of or mailed to Town Hall. Cheques can be made out to “Town of Lincoln” and addressed to:
Town of Lincoln
c/o Finance Department
4800 South Service Road
Beamsville, ON L3J 1L3
Report a safety hazard
If there is an immediate danger to health or property due to fireworks, call 9-1-1
If you have a concern related to the use of fireworks, that is not of an immediate nature, please contact the municipal law enforcement office at 905-563-2799 x 289 or via our Online Complaint Form
Report a noise complaint
You can report noise complaints from fireworks by calling the NRPS Non-Emergency Line at 905-945-2211 or our Municipal Law Enforcement Office 905-563-2799 Ext. 289.
Fireworks safety tips
The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to go to a public display or enjoy one virtually hosted by trained and certified professionals. If you choose to have a family or an informal neighbourhood fireworks display, check out these tips:
- Choose a clear, open space, away from buildings, overhead wires and tree branches
- Dispose of unused fireworks by completely submerging the fireworks in water and soak overnight, wrap the soaked fireworks in a plastic bag (so that they don't dry out) and then you can put them in your household garbage
- Don't attempt to re-light a "dud" or defective firework
- Keep a water hose or a bucket of water close by
- Light only one firework at a time
- Never hold a lit firework in your hand
- Only adults should handle and set off fireworks
- Only use safety-certified fireworks sold by a trusted source
- Wear glasses and gloves when handling fireworks
Sparklers are particularly popular with kids. They may be small in size, but they burn extremely hot. Even after burning out, sparklers can stay hot. Place sparklers and fireworks in a metal bucket of water or sand to cool down after use.
Smoking material fires are preventable.
If you smoke, use only fire-safe cigarettes and smoke outside. Most deaths result from fires that started in living rooms, family rooms and dens or in bedrooms. Keep cigarettes, lighters, matches, and other smoking materials up high out of the reach of children, in a locked cabinet. Use a deep, sturdy ashtray. Place it away from anything that can burn. Do not discard cigarettes in vegetation such as mulch, potted plants or landscaping, peat moss, dried grasses, leaves or other things that could ignite easily.
Before you throw away butts and ashes, make sure they are out, and dousing in water or sand is the best way to do that.
Smoking and Medical Oxygen
Never smoke, and never allow anyone to smoke where medical oxygen is used. Medical oxygen can cause materials to ignite more easily and make fires burn at a faster rate than normal. It can make an existing fire burn faster and hotter.
Fires have occurred while e-cigarettes were being used, the battery was being charged, or the device was being transported. Battery failures have led to small explosions. Never leave charging e-cigarettes unattended. E-cigarettes should be used with caution.
- The single most important tool toward 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.
- 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.
Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a gas 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 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 fatalities in Ontario occur in the home.
When inhaling 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.
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.
Requirements for Smoke Alarms:
- A working smoke alarm on every level of your home is required by Ontario law.
- The Ontario Building Code requires newer homes to have smoke alarms in all bedrooms.
- The fire department strongly advises the installation of smoke alarms in bedrooms of all homes.
- Always install the smoke alarm on or near the ceiling in accordance with the manufacturer's installation instructions.
Smoke alarms must be maintained as per the manufacturer's instructions. If you have a battery-operated alarm, change batteries in Spring and Fall when you adjust your clocks forward and back. Don't forget that even hard-wired alarms have a battery backup in case of a power failure.
Requirements for Carbon Monoxide (CO) Alarms:
- If your home has a fuel-burning appliance (e.g., furnace, hot water tank, portable gas heaters, stove), a fireplace or an attached garage, you are required by law to 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.
*“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.
If your CO alarm sounds, leave your home immediately and call 9-1-1.
- Test your alarms each month to make sure it is operating properly.
- The owner’s manual explains how to test your alarm.
- Remember to check the manual for information on when to buy a new alarm. Generally alarms expire after 10 years.
- 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.
Smoke and CO alarms expire after 10 years
Smoke alarms expire after 10 years. Regardless of the power source (hardwired or battery), after 10 years the sensing technology inside the alarm may no longer be reliable in sensing smoke or fire. That's why smoke alarms must be replaced every 10 years.
Not sure of the age of your alarms? Check the expiry date sticker usually found on the side of the alarm or the date of manufacture listed on the backside of the alarm.
It's the Law
Every home must have working smoke alarms on every level and outside all sleeping areas. Carbon Monoxide Alarms must be install in every house outside of all sleeping areas. Requirements for CO alarms vary for apartment or condo buildings (see below)
Buying the Right Alarm
There are several types of smoke alarms with different features. Alarms can be electrically connected, battery powered or a combination of both. Many alarms have a pause or hush feature, which can be used to temporarily silence nuisance alarms.
Where to Install Smoke Alarms
Install smoke alarms on the ceiling because smoke rises. If that's not an option, place high on the wall in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. Avoid placing close to bathrooms, heating appliances or close to windows and ceiling fans. For added protection, install additional alarms inside the bedrooms.Image
Smoke Alarm Safety Checklist
- Test smoke alarms monthly
- Change the batteries twice per year
- Gently vacuum annually with soft brush
- Replace smoke alarms when they exceed the manufacturer's recommended lifecycle, which is generally 10 years. However, replace alarms sooner if they are damaged, painted or malfunctioning.
Safety is Everyone's Responsibility:
- Homeowners: As a homeowner, it is your responsibility to install and maintain smoke alarms on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas.
- Landlords: As a landlord, it is your responsibility to ensure your rental properties comply with this law.
- Tenants/Renters: If you are a tenant of a rental property and do not have the required number of smoke alarms, contact your landlord immediately. It is against the law for tenants to remove the batteries or tamper with the smoke alarms in any way.
Alarms for the Hearing Impaired
Smoke alarms that use high volume alarms and flashing lights are available for the deaf or hard-of-hearing. Visit the Canadian Hearing Service's website at www.chs.ca for information.
Landlords and Tenants
- Responsible for installing and maintaining Smoke and CO alarms in their rental units.
- Required to test Smoke alarms and CO alarms in rental units annually and when the battery is replaced, and when changes are made to the electric circuit, or a change of tenancy occurs.
- Required to provide tenants with smoke alarm maintenance instructions.
- It is against the law for tenants to remove the batteries or tamper with CO alarms in any way.
- Required to inform the Landlord when a smoke alarm is disconnected, not working, or the operation has been impaired.
Smoke alarms must be tested monthly by pressing the test button. Any person who disables a smoke alarm will be charged under the Provincial Offences Act. Replace batteries every year. Replace CO alarms according to manufacturer's instructions.
CO safety checklist
Follow these tips to keep you and your family safe:
- Check that outside vents are clear and not blocked
- For additional protection, install a CO alarm on every level of your home
- Get an inspection for all fuel-burning appliances in your home at least once a year
- If a combination smoke and CO alarm is used, make sure it's installed on the ceiling so it will detect smoke effectively since smoke rises
- Keep lots of space around space heaters
- Never use a portable fuel-burning appliance, like a barbeque, inside your home
- Unlike smoke, which rises to the ceiling, CO mixes with air. To work properly, a CO alarm should not be blocked by furniture, curtains or other obstructions to normal air flow
- Always refer to the manufacturer's instructions for additional information regarding proper installation, use and maintenance of your alarm(s).
CO awareness video
Watch Julia's story, a video on CO awareness. https://youtu.be/kBbJfGhAuw4
Learn more about carbon monoxide safety and protect you and your family.