In Ontario, residences are required to have a working smoke alarm on every level and outside every sleeping area. It's the law!
If you live in a rental unit, it is the owner's legal responsibility to make sure that you have working smoke alarms. You are required to test your alarms monthly and immediately report any issues with the alarm to your landlord.
It is against the law to disable a smoke alarm.
Test your smoke alarm
Check your smoke alarm is working by pushing the test button monthly - it's the law!
When testing your alarm, check the expiry date. Alarms should be replaced every 7-10 years. If you aren’t sure or there is no expiry date, it’s time for the alarm to be replaced.
- Smoke alarms are required to be installed on every level of your home and outside each sleeping area
- The smoke alarm must be installed on or near the ceiling, in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
- Install a new battery at least once a year
- Smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms should be tested monthly
- Upgrade to interconnected smoke alarms, so that when one goes off, they all go off together, giving you warning wherever you are in your home
- Choose hardwired smoke alarms or alarms with a 10-year sealed battery
- Consider installing extra automatic 'fire suppression' systems at home –like sprinklers
- Sleep with your bedroom door closed at night
- Use the hush button to deal with nuisance alarms from cooking, dust or steam
- If your alarm is beeping and you are certain there is no fire, try cleaning the alarm and replacing the battery
- Move or replace the alarm if it is too close to a kitchen, bathroom, or heat register
- Replace a defective alarm as soon as possible
Types of smoke alarms
Smoke and Carbon monoxide alarms must be labelled as meeting ULC or CUL standards
Smoke alarms are available as
- With 10-year sealed batteries
- With disposable 9-volt batteries
- Dual powered (hardwired with a battery backup)
Hardwired smoke alarms rely on household electricity as an energy source. When power to your home is disrupted for any reason, the smoke alarms are no longer energized. To ensure continuous protection during a power outage, install additional battery-operated smoke alarms within your home.
Dual power smoke alarms are designed to offer an additional energy source from a battery and provides continuous protection when household electricity is not available. The battery in a dual power smoke alarm should be changed once a year.
There are two approved alarm types, ionization and photoelectric. Both types conform to Canadian standards and will detect all types of fires that commonly occur in the home. Installing both types of smoke alarms in your home can enhance fire safety.
Advantages of ionization
- Fastest type to respond to flaming fires
- Some models have a hush or temporary silence feature that allows silencing without removing the battery
- Some models are available with a long-life battery
Advantages of photoelectric (recommended near the kitchen)
- Fastest type to respond to slow smouldering fires and white or gray smoke
- Less prone to nuisance alarms from cooking, mist, or steam from showers
If you do not have a working smoke alarm or if you want more information about smoke alarms and fire safety, contact Ottawa Fire Services at 613-580-2860 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carbon monoxide alarms
If your alarm is sounding or you suspect carbon monoxide in your home, get out immediately and call 911.
Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odourless, colorless gas created via incomplete combustion of fuels (e.g. gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, methane, etc.). In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuels are potential sources of carbon monoxide. Vehicles or generators running in an attached garage can also produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.
- Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarms are required to be installed:
- outside all sleeping areas
- on every level of the home
- in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards
- For the best protection, interconnect all alarms throughout the home so that when one sounds, they all sound
- Test alarms at least once a month
- Replace the alarms according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- If the alarm sounds:
- immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door
- Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for
- Call for 911 from a safe location and stay there until emergency personnel arrive
- Remove a vehicle from the garage immediately after starting it
- Do not run a vehicle or other fuelled engine or motor indoors
- Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow
- During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, fireplace and any other fuel burning appliance are clear of snow/ice build-up
- A generator or other gas equipment should be used in a well-ventilated location outdoors away from windows, doors and vent openings
- Book an annual inspection and cleaning of furnaces, chimneys, fireplaces and all other fuel-burning equipment such as gas dryers, and stoves
- Never use gas appliances such as ranges, ovens, or clothes dryers to heat your home
- Never use a BBQ or portable fuel-burning camping equipment inside a home, garage, vehicle or tent unless it is specifically designed for use in an enclosed space
- Shovel snow away from exhaust pipes, dryer vents, and intakes for fuel burning appliances
A portable fire extinguisher can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or containing it until the fire department arrives. A fire can grow and spread quickly so the number one priority for residents is always to get out safely.
Fire extinguishers spray an agent that will cool the burning fuel or remove the oxygen to reduce the fire’s ability to continue to burn. The type of extinguisher used must correspond to the type of fire.
Fire extinguisher tips
- Use a portable fire extinguisher when:
- the fire is confined to a small area, such as a wastebasket
- the fire is not growing
- everyone has exited the building
- the fire department has been called (or is being called)
- the room is not filled with smoke.
- Common extinguishers include
- Class A - ordinary combustibles (wood, paper)
- Class B - grease, gasoline and oils
- Class C - burning electrical wires
- Select a multi-purpose extinguisher labeled ABC which can be used on all types of home fires
- Get an extinguisher that is large enough to put out a small fire, and light enough to use
- Choose a fire extinguisher that carries the label of an independent testing laboratory (e.g. CSA or ULC)
- Install a fire extinguisher close to an exit and in a visible, accessible location
- Follow the manufacturer's directions for taking care of the extinguisher
- Check the pressure gauge once a month
Using a fire extinguisher
Ottawa Fire Services offers hands on training for school, businesses, and organization. To learn more, visit the OFS fire extinguisher training.
It is safe to use an extinguisher if:
- The fire is confined to a small area and is not spreading beyond the area immediately around it
- You can escape through an unblocked route where the fire will not spread
- You have read, understood the directions, and are confident using the extinguisher
Extinguishing a fire
Stand approximately 2.5 metres (6 to 8 feet) away from the fire and keep your back to a clear exit so you can make an easy escape if the fire cannot be controlled. If the room fills with smoke, leave immediately, stay low, and get outside to safety.
To operate a fire extinguisher, remember the word PASS:
- Pull the pin, hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you, and give a test squeeze to ensure it functions before approaching the fire
- Aim low and point the extinguisher at the base of the fire
- Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly
- Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side
If the fire does not begin to go out immediately, leave the area at once
How and where to dispose of old/expired fire extinguishers
Learn more about the disposal of household hazardous waste including how and where to dispose of fire extinguishers using the Waste Explorer tool.