The sense of urgency and immediacy evoked by the ringing of fire alarms is no longer as prevalent as it once was. More frequently, firefighters find that people are more likely to stay in their apartments in the event of a fire alarm.
“Often times people just think it’s a routine fire alarm. I can’t stress the importance enough of when you hear that fire alarm, there could be an issue happening in the building, and the best course of action is to get out of that building,” explains Jack Burt, Deputy Fire Chief, London Fire Department.
Last year on May 26, an apartment fire erupted on the 10th floor at an apartment on 155 Kent St. A lighting fixture failed while the tenant was out, allowing the fire to grow unchecked and cause significant damage to multiple floors above and below the unit.
Burt says that some people followed the routine of a typically fire drill, while others remained in the building and were still inside when the fire crews arrived on scene.
“I think people become complacent. They hear the alarm, they think it’s just a routine fire alarm in building, when really, it could be something much greater and you could be putting yourself in harm’s way,” says Burt.
For tenants that are still in a burning building, fire fighters advise them to stay in their units. Most apartment units have a two-hour separation time before the fire can into the unit. Tenants who are not in harm’s way are advised to stay in their units with their doors shut, and call 911 to report their location.
In the unit with the fire, the tenant is advised to close their unit door behind them upon evacuation to contain the fire in its place of origin to the best of their abilities.
“If smoke gets into the hall way and stairwells, it’s going to impede everybody’s ability to get into the building,” explains Burt, “if you delay getting out of the building, by the time we arrive, and you’re trying to get out of the building while we are trying to get in, that could impede our efforts to try to get in and fight the fire.”
Burt encourages individuals to obey the warnings from fire alarms, as individuals are much safer outdoors than indoors.