Fire Safety Tips


More and more people are moving into apartments or condominiums. The chance a fire will start in an apartment is about the same as in a house, yet the potential for growth is significantly greater. Instead of displacing one family, a fire in an apartment or condominium can force many families out of their homes.

Preparation is the key.

When you hear the building fire alarm take it seriously. Every second you delay wastes valuable time you need to escape. For this reason you should regularly practice an escape plan. If a fire starts in your building you must know how to get out quickly. Don’t wait to find out the severity of the situation. Time counts. Your escape plan should include two ways out of your apartment and an outside meeting place away from the building.

Remember to not use the elevator during a fire emergency. If you are unable to use the stairs, stay in your apartment and call 911. Tell the dispatcher where you are and ask for help. If the fire is in your unit, quickly go to the stairwell, pull the fire alarm, and wait on the stair landing for help.


Most fire deaths and injuries occur in the home. Is your home fire safe?

Children under five years old and adults over 65 are the most likely to die in home fires. The United States and Canada have the highest fire death rates of any industrialized countries.

Why? We build our buildings to high standards and our fire departments are ranked among the best in the world. People are the problem, and their lack of awareness about how important it is to make fire safety a part of their everyday lives.

How long do you have to escape from a fire in your home?

A typical living room fire can threaten the entire house within just a few minutes. Life-threatening conditions can occur in upstairs bedrooms less than two minutes after the smoke alarm sounds. Your family needs to know how to get out at the first sign of a fire.

Don’t wait, plan your escape today!

Click here to print out an Escape Plan Grid. Then come back here for help in making your plan. You can also draw your own floor plan on a piece of paper.

Two ways out of every room need to be marked. Be sure to include windows on your plan. Every member of your household should be part of the planning. Pick a meeting place outside. Tell everyone to meet there after they’ve escaped. That way you can count heads and tell the fire department if anyone’s trapped inside.

Click here to see an Example Escape Plan and then Practice it!

Plans are great, but the only way to know if they work is to practice them. Hold a home fire drill. Getting out of your own home sounds easy, but your home can look very different if it’s full of smoke. Children especially need to practice what to do. Have someone press the button on a smoke alarm to signal the start of the fire drill.

Remember that this is not a race. Be sure to get out quickly, but carefully. Everyone should go to the meeting place. Make time to plan and practice your family’s escape today!


Smoke alarms save lives, but only if they are properly installed and functioning. Most fire fatalities happen in homes without working smoke alarms.



We recommend that you install at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home, including the basement. It is even better to have one in every bedroom. Smoke alarms are designed to wake you up if a fire starts while you are sleeping. Be sure your smoke alarms are near bedrooms and other sleeping areas in your home.


When was the last time you heard your smoke alarm? Battery-operated alarms should be tested once a month to make sure they are working.


Replace the batteries in your smoke alarms at least twice a year. We recommend you do this when you change your clocks each spring and fall.


Replace your smoke alarm every ten years. After ten years, your smoke detector will have been working consecutively for 87,000 hours. No other appliance in your home works this long. If you do not know how old your smoke alarm is, or if it is ten years or older, replace it as soon as possible.


Whether you live in a rented house or apartment, your landlord is required to provide you with a working smoke alarm. Tenants are responsible for maintaining the smoke alarm(s) in good working condition.

  • If your rental property does not have a smoke alarm, inform your landlord of this obligation. If you are having difficulty communicating with your landlord about this matter you may contact the Madison Fire Department and they can give you information on who to contact to resolve the matter.


Fire Code requirements specify the size, number and location of fire extinguishers within your facility. These requirements help establish a protection level appropriate for the hazard class of your building. Make sure you know the types, sizes and maintenance requirements of your extinguishers, as well as the basics of extinguisher operation.

Fighting Small Fires

These devices can put out or contain small fires, but only if you know how to use them. Before even considering using a portable extinguisher, make sure you have access to a clear exit. Also ensure that you are using the right extinguisher for the type of fire you are trying to put out. Look for these symbols on the label:

Type A - Ordinary Combustibles
These include common household items such as paper, wood and cloth.
Type B - Flammable Liquids
Gasoline, cooking oils or fats, oil based paint and kerosene are just some of these.
Type C - Electrical Equipment
Wall outlets, power cords, small and large appliances, wiring and fuse boxes fall under this category.

P.A.S.S. - How To Use An Extinguisher

Here's a simple way to remember the steps to take when using a portable extinguisher. Start by standing 6-10 feet back from the fire and ensure that you have an open exit route behind you. Then remember the word PASS:

Pull the pin. The pin is there as a safeguard and locks the handle. Pulling it out enables it for use.

Aim low. The hose or nozzle should be pointed at the base of the fire to best put it out.

Squeeze the lever above the handle. This will shoot the extinguishing substance from the hose or nozzle. Keep in mind that most small extinguishers hold only 8 to 10 seconds worth of extinguishing power.

Sweep from side to side. As you move slowly toward the fire, keep the hose or nozzle aimed at the base of the fire. If the flames appear to be out, release the handle and watch closely. If the fire ignites again, repeat the process.

Other Tips

Before you use an extinguisher to fight small fires, make sure everyone else has left the area and that firefighters have been called using 911.

Call Fire Services to inspect the fire area, even if you are sure you have extinguished the fire.

Once a month, inspect your extinguisher for damage and make sure it is properly charged (see manufacturer''s instructions for details).

If you use an extinguisher, it must be recharged by a professional. If it is a disposable unit, throw it out.