Toronto’s fire chief tells you what to do when there’s a fire in your high-rise building
CBC News
By Julia Whalen
14 June 2017

Chief Matthew Pegg extended condolences Wednesday on behalf of Toronto Fire to all those affected by the fatal Grenfell Tower fire in London. (Rob Krbavac/CBC)

For some Toronto firefighters, the day began with a two-alarm high-rise fire at a building near Adelaide Street and John Street downtown.

"That is the 30th fire this year in the city of Toronto that our crews have had to deal with a fire caused by carelessly discarded cigarette butts," said Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg.

"It has caused more than half a million dollars' damage and places lives at risk," he said,

"It's absolutely unnecessary. You cannot just flick cigarette butts off the balcony."

The topic of fire safety is on many people's minds in the wake of a devastating blaze at a high-rise apartment building in London that claimed the lives of at least 12 people.

Pegg extended condolences Wednesday on behalf of Toronto Fire to "all those affected by this tragic loss," including emergency responders.

What safety protocols are in place here?
Every high-rise residential building in the province, in accordance with the Ontario Building Code, must be the result of "non-combustible construction," Pegg said.

"It means the actual design and construction of high rise residential buildings are built out of materials that don't burn," he told CBC Toronto.

In addition, Toronto Fire maintains a comprehensive list of each residential high rise in the city and inspects each one no less than once every year. Pegg said each high rise also has a fire safety plan, and residents can ask their landlord or property manager any questions they may have.

"The general rule and general advice we give our high-rise residents: when the fire alarm goes off ... as long as there is no hazard in your suite — so there is no smoke, no flames, you're not at risk in your suite — you're best to stay there. We call that protect in place."

If you do stay, Pegg says:
• Keep the door closed.
• Stay awake and stay vigilant.
• Listen for any messages broadcast by the building and fire crews.

But if you live in a single-family home or a low-rise building — meaning six stories or fewer — and you hear the fire alarm, get out of the building, Pegg said.

Toronto Fire also has a specialized high-rise unit, which Pegg calls "necessary in a city like Toronto."

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