Residential fires are always a concern, but they are particularly troublesome for tenants of condo communities, where flames can easily spread from unit to unit.
The close proximity of these complexes makes it necessary for all residents to practice condo fire safety and eliminate risks to the greatest extent possible.
Tenants should be aware, however, that fire hazards are not always as obvious as one might expect.
Today, we’ll be sharing some of the lesser-known causes of fires in condominiums. We encourage board members and property managers to share this list with their communities.
The Five Condo Fire Hazards You May Be Forgetting
Many Alberta condo owners spend all year looking forward to the warmer months when they can enjoy their outdoor spaces and fire up their grill— and we completely understand! But it is important to remember that these beloved summer devices are one of the most dangerous common fire hazards in condos.
In many cases, BBQ users forget to empty the grease trap (or drip pan) inside their unit. This can cause the pan to overflow and catch fire. Another mistake users often make is placing the BBQ too close to external walls, fences, or other flammable materials, which can cause a fire to spread at a rapid rate.
Last but not least, always remember to turn the gas valve off first when you’ve finished BBQing, then turn off the burner control. This will ensure gas doesn’t remain trapped in the connecting hose.
2. Expired Smoke Detectors
Under Alberta law, condo buildings are required to have working smoke and fire detectors in storage rooms, elevators, laundry rooms, hallways, stairwells, and other common areas. They are also required to install these detectors inside individual units.
Unfortunately, however, there are cases where condo boards fail to test these detectors within the intervals specified by Alberta legislation.
Additionally, it is still advisable for unit owners to invest in their own detector, as a precautionary measure.
We encourage tenants to consult with their board members regarding fire system testing schedules and seek legal advice if you feel your board is not adhering to the Condominium Property Act.
These relaxing home decor favourites rarely come to mind when folks think about condo fire prevention, but they are more dangerous than they are given credit for. They account for 3 per cent of all residential fires and 6 per cent of home fire injuries.
While that may not sound like a lot, in 2018 there were 5,184 residential fires in Canada— meaning approximately 150 were caused by a candle.
For this reason, we advise all Alberta condo owners to never leave a candle unattended. It is also important to keep children and pets away from burning candles at all times.
Where you decide to place a candle in your home should also be carefully considered. If a candle is placed near a window or a vent, a draft of air could cause the flame to move. This could be a danger if curtains or other flammable materials are nearby.
4. Overloaded Electrical Outlets
Do you have a crowded outlet behind your living room entertainment system? Are multiple kitchen appliances plugged into a single outlet? This is another often-forgotten cause of fires in condominiums.
When you overload a circuit with electrical devices, more electricity passes through the outlet, generating more heat. Over time, this can cause the wiring system to catch fire.
As a rule of thumb, never plug more than two appliances into a single outlet. If you must connect more than two devices, use an extension cord that is the correct size and rating for the amount of electricity your equipment requires.
Finally, try to remember to power off your devices when they aren’t in use. This alone can greatly reduce the likelihood of a fire.
5. Dryer Lint Traps
Twenty-seven percent of all dryer fires are caused by a build-up of lint. When lint builds up, it travels into ductwork and vents, which will decrease the efficiency of your unit and reduce airflow.
The heat from the unit can eventually cause built-up lint to ignite.
To protect yourself and others, always empty your lint trap after each use and never leave your dryer running when you aren’t home.
If you suspect a fire, disconnect the power to your dryer (if possible) and turn off the breaker to your laundry room. Then immediately call 911 and vacate the premises.
Remember, by being proactive and adhering to condo fire prevention best practices, you create a safer environment for all to enjoy.
Are you a resident at one of our Catalyst Condo Management properties? Do you have questions about fire safety? Reach out condo management company calgary today. One of our knowledgeable team members would be happy to provide more information.