Fire safety at home
What are the laws pertaining to the installation of smoke alarms?
Smoke alarms are required on every level of the house, located in the common area (corridor) serving each floor. If your house has been constructed after September 1987, then you must have interconnected smoke alarms, meaning that when the corridor mounted smoke alarm sounds on the bedroom level for example, all of the smoke alarms will sound throughout the house.
We strongly recommend the installation of additional smoke alarms within each bedroom, as well as the installation of carbon monoxide detectors. In rental housing, it is the responsibility of the landlord to supply the smoke alarm and the tenant is responsible for the annual maintenance (changing the battery). When purchasing smoke alarms, ensure that they carry the ULC seal of approval.
Smoke detector brigade
Smoke detectors save lives by warning people of possible fires in a home. But they can only do the job if they are working. Too many deaths occur that could have been prevented if the house was equipped with a working smoke detector.
Every summer, through a partnership with the Montreal Fire Department, a fire prevention officer or a team from the vCOP smoke detector brigade may ring your doorbell and offer to check your smoke detector, replace dead batteries and install new smoke detectors where needed.
Smoke detector brigade volunteers will be wearing their vCOP uniform and carry a photo ID. If you are not home when they come to visit, they will leave a notice with information on how to schedule a visit. We encourage all residents to take advantage of this free service to safeguard their family, their house and their property.
My smoke alarm chirps continuously and I don’t know why. What should I do?
The battery needs to be replaced. Smoke alarms are designed to warn you when the battery is 1/2 due for replacement by chirping at 30-second intervals for up to 6 weeks. Never use rechargeable batteries, as they don’t warn you when they are starting to fail.
My smoke alarm keeps going off when I take a shower or cook in the kitchen, what can I do?
The smoke alarm needs to be relocated away from these areas that can cause nuisance alarms, they should be ceiling-mounted and at least 1 foot away from any wall and not installed in corners.
How often should I test my smoke alarm?
Test it once every month. Pushing the button is sufficient as it tests both the alarm and the sensitivity to smoke. Batteries should be changed annually, and the detector should be periodically dusted.
Do I ever have to change my smoke alarms?
There are essentially two types of smoke alarms on the market for residential use. They are the photoelectric and the ionization type units. The photoelectric do not have any parts that wear out and are therefore good indefinitely other than for renewing the battery on a yearly basis. The ionization smoke alarms have a 10-year life expectancy.
What kind of fire extinguisher should I buy for my house?
A multipurpose type fire extinguisher with a Class A, B and C rating should be ideal for most applications. They are rated for general combustibles, flammable liquids and fires involving live electrical sources. They should carry the ULC seal of approval. Either a 2-1/2 pound or a 5 pound capacity should be adequate. Ensure installation in a location that is easily accessible at all times and learn how to operate your fire extinguisher.
Why are all new houses being built with sprinklers and how will this benefit me?
Since November 1997, all new construction, including single-family dwellings must now be equipped with sprinklers. Under most circumstances, sprinklers will extinguish any fire that may start and at very least, they will control any fire and minimize fire spread and fire damage.
Sprinklers discharge a lot less water than a firefighter equipped with a hose. Any resulting water damage is easier and faster to repair than damage caused by fire. As well, most insurance companies will give a rebate on the premium when the premises are sprinklered.
What are the rules pertaining to the use of barbecues in Côte Saint-Luc?
Please see the barbecue section of the Resident’s Guide to the City By-Laws for information about the use of barbecues in Côte Saint-Luc.
The fire alarm keeps going off in my building for no apparent reason and disturbing our routine. What can we do?
Any time that the fire alarm sounds in your building, the fire department should be notified via 9-1-1. Never assume that your neighbour has called. The Fire Department investigates the reasons for every fire alarm system activation so that if it is determined that there is a problem, the owner can be forced to make the necessary repairs.
Garbage accumulates in the garbage rooms and is not picked up frequently enough. What can we do?
Landlords are obliged to empty the garbage rooms on a daily basis and store the accumulated garbage in a fire-resistant enclosure between pick ups. If the landlord is not respecting his obligations, then register a complaint with either the Fire Department at 514 872-3800 or with the city’s Urban Planning Department at 514-485-6800.
My landlord has locked the fire exits and I cannot get into the building. What are my rights?
The Fire Department applies certain rules with respect to people being able to get out of buildings in the event of an emergency.
All “exits” must be free, accessible, identified by an exit light and said light must be illuminated all the time. A landlord is within his/her rights to restrict access by certain doors only but he/she cannot impede or interfere with people leaving a building by any conforming “exit”.
What are carbon monoxide detectors and do I need them?
Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, tasteless gas that is toxic in high concentrations or over extended periods of exposure. It is a by-product of incomplete combustion (burning). If you heat by wood, oil or gas, or cook by wood or gas, if your hot water is heated by gas, if you have an indoor gas operated grill, etc., then there is a risk of exposure and an investment in a carbon monoxide detector is highly recommended.
Ideally, you should install one on the same level as the bedrooms, on the ceiling of the common corridor serving those bedrooms. An additional unit is strongly recommended in the area where the potential source of carbon monoxide is situated (furnace room or family room fireplace, etc.).
My building is fireproof. Why do I need fire alarm systems and fire extinguishers, etc.?
“Fireproof” is a theoretical term. All materials will eventually break down if exposed to sufficient heat for an adequate time frame. In any event, regardless of building construction components, i.e., cement, reinforced steel, etc., it is the building contents that burn and contribute to the deadly smoke and the high levels of heat that in turn give rise to fire deaths and/or injuries. Smoke is toxic and must be avoided.
The heat can attain levels in excess of 1,200° F (650° C) in a very short time frame. People have to be notified at the earliest possible stage of a fire so that they can safely evacuate before the conditions escalate to a level that may trap them. Fire alarm systems are early warning devices that serve to warn people so that they can safely get out; fire extinguishers are first aid devices that, if used early and efficiently, may manage or extinguish an incident before it escalates into a tragedy.
The elevators are always breaking down in my building and I keep getting trapped. Can you do anything to force the landlord to make repairs?
In the event that the fire alarm system is activated, elevators are obliged by law to return to their ground floor and lock off in the open position. Elevators are not to be used when the fire alarm system is activated.
The Fire Department can force landlords to repair elevators needed for firefighting should they break down or become unreliable. For all other elevators, it either becomes an issue to be settled at the rental board level or the provincial building board.
The emergency lights in my building didn’t function during the last power failure. Doesn’t the landlord have an obligation to provide emergency lighting?
The law requires a minimum of 30 minutes in the case of rechargeable battery lighting units. The intent is that people should be evacuating when there is a power failure therefore 30 minutes should be more than sufficient. At this point in time we cannot force landlords to convert to generators.