Tenant Fire Safety

The smoke alarms in your apartment are there for your protection. NEVER tamper with them or remove them.

Report to the building owner or manager immediately any doors, lighting, smoke detectors or fire extinguishers that are missing or not working properly.

Cooking Fires

  • Unattended cooking is the #1 cause of residential fires. Stay in the kitchen and keep an eye on your stove. Wear short or close-fitting sleeves and turn pan handles toward the back of the stove to prevent spills and burns.
  • Keep cooking surfaces clean to prevent food and grease build-up.
  • If the alarm goes off from cooking, open a door or window. Do not attempt to disable the smoke alarm.
  • If the fire is still confined to a pan, slide a tight-fitting lid over the flames to smother a grease or oil fire. Then turn off the stove and leave the lid on until the pan cools. Do NOT attempt to move something that is on fire.
  • Some small fires may be smothered with baking soda. Never use water or flour on cooking fires.
  • For oven fires, shut the oven door and turn off the stove to smother.
  • If the fire is spreading beyond the container OR if you have ANY doubts about containing the fire, leave the building immediately and call 911.


  • Develop and practice a fire escape plan with roommates/family and know at least two ways out of each room.
  • Select a safe meeting place outside and away from your building. Make sure everyone knows where it is and that they should go there once they have evacuated the building.
  • Doors to basements, laundry, and furnace rooms are “fire doors” that must be closed at all times (never propped open). These doors are meant to inhibit the spread of smoke and fire. Keeping them closed during a fire saves lives and property.

Fire Extinguishers

  • If the fire is not spreading AND you are familiar with the proper use of fire extinguishers, you may then attempt to extinguish the fire. Know both your limits and the fire extinguisher’s limits.
  • Be familiar with use BEFORE fire starts. Remember PASS...Pull the pin, Aim low at base of the fire, Squeeze lever to discharge, Sweep nozzle from side to side.
  • ALWAYS keep your back to an unobstructed exit that is free from fire.


  • Local fire ordinances prohibit open-flame cooking devices (charcoal, wood, LP, etc.) from being used on combustible balconies unless the balcony is equipped with automatic fire sprinklers. Grills must be used at least 10 feet from the building.
  • Grills that are powered by the small LP cylinders (2.5 lb water capacity) are allowed to be stored on combustible balconies, or within the 10-foot limit, but cannot be used there.
  • Make sure the coals are completely cooled down with water before disposing of them (coals may stay hot for up to 72 hours after use).
  • Make sure all ashes are contained in a non-combustible container.


  • Make sure candles are in a sturdy holder and kept at least 1 foot from anything flammable.
  • ALWAYS blow out candles before leaving the room or going to sleep.

Smoking Materials

Improperly discarded smoking materials are the leading cause of fatal fires! Make sure smoking materials are fully extinguished by dousing them in water and disposing of them in a non-combustible container.

In the Event of a Fire

  • Resist the temptation to attempt to fight the fire yourself.
  • Evacuate the building immediately through your nearest exit.
  • In multi-family structures, sound an alarm as you leave.
  • Call 911 to report the emergency after you’ve left the building.

Final Notes

  • An estimated 40% of fatal fires involve the use of alcohol by victims, their family members, or friends.
  • Leave hallways clear of clutter (garbage bags, bicycles, etc.). In the event of a fire, the hallway may be your path to safety.
  • After move-in, tour hallways, basement and common areas to locate exits (doors and windows). Know where fire extinguishers are and which fire doors should be kept closed.
  • Inside your apartment, locate smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure they are working. Report any malfunctions to the building owner or manager.

Download Tenant Fire Safety Information

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