Apartment building windows and skyApartment buildings are designed to be fire safe, but the large size and height of these buildings and the number of tenants creates challenges for emergency response.

Help us keep you safe by doing your part. Be prepared by having an emergency escape plan.

What is your plan?

Think ahead, ask questions and decide whether you will stay or go, based on your abilities.

Ask yourself if there is a fire in the building, will I stay and protect in place or will I go?

The decision is yours. Know what to do before a fire happens.

If fire happens in your apartment unit

  • Remain calm and exit your unit
  • Take your key with you and close the door behind you
  • Activate the closest fire alarm which should be located by the exit stairs
  • Leave the building via the exit stairwell. Never use the elevators during a fire

If your building fire alarm sounds, follow these steps

  • Before opening your unit door, use the back of your hand and touch the top of the door and around the door handle. If it feels hot or warm, do not open the door. An indication of heat means there could be a fire behind the door.
  • If the door is cool to the touch, open it slightly and check for smoke in the hallway
  • If you see smoke, stay in your unit. Follow the steps below when your path is blocked by smoke
  • If the hallway is clear of smoke, exit your unit and close the door behind you
  • Never use elevators during a fire. Go to the nearest exit stairwell. Using the same procedures as mentioned above, check the door for heat before you open it slightly
  • If you see smoke, do not go this way. You must use another exit. Close the door tightly and go to the second exit stairwell. Most buildings have an exit stairwell at both ends of the hall. Before you open the door, again check for heat and check the stairwell for smoke
  • If the stairwell is clear of smoke, enter it and close the door tightly behind you
  • Go down the stairs and exit the building

What if I am physically unable to leave?

When your exit is blocked by smoke or fire and you are physically unable to exit the building, you should:

  • Remain calm
  • Keep your unit door closed, but unlock it
  • Protect in place. Seal the door completely with duct tape and place a wet towel across the bottom to prevent smoke from seeping into your unit
  • Call 911 and tell them your location. Advise them that there is an emergency in your building and you are unable to evacuate. The 911 communicator will provide further instructions

What you need to know about fire safety in your building

What causes apartment fires?

The most common causes of fire in high-rise buildings are cooking and smoking – in both cases, these types of fires are preventable.

Distractions can be dangerous

The main cause of home stovetop fires is unattended cooking due to distractions such as answering the phone, unexpected visitors, attending to a child, falling asleep and forgetfulness.

The do's and don'ts of fire escape planning


  • Stay calm and head to the nearest stairwell
  • Leave the building as soon as the alarm sounds. Move to a safe place outside
  • If you can't leave, stay in your unit and protect in place
  • Plan your escape before an emergency happens
  • Know your building's fire safety plan. Contact your building manager, landlord or the fire department if you have questions


  • Panic or break windows
  • Go to the roof
  • Remember: smoke and heat rise
  • Wait before leaving
  • Gather in the lobby or hallways
  • Wait for the elevator
  • During a fire, elevators will be out of service on ground level and not available for public use