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Responding to a Building Fire Alarm

Do you know what to do when the fire alarm in your apartment building sounds?

For people who live in apartments or condominiums, the sound of the building fire alarm can be jolting and frightening. You may not know if there is an actual fire in the building or if your neighbor burned some toast and has left the front door open. Regardless, it’s important to take every alarm seriously and begin your escape plan quickly.

Do I stay inside my apartment or leave the building? That depends. For people able to use stairs, you have a choice. You may evacuate using the stairs or seek shelter inside of an apartment.

Here are a few tips to help you be better prepared for a building fire alarm.

If you can evacuate, do so immediately.

  1. Leave your apartment.
  2. Close the door as you go.
  3. Use the stairs, not the elevator, to leave the building.
  4. Go to your building’s outside meeting place.
  5. Wait for instructions. Do not re-enter the building until given permission.

For people who can’t use stairs or can’t access a stairwell because of smoke in the hallway, shelter in place:

  1. Stay inside your apartment.
  2. Keep your doors and windows closed.
  3. Place a towel or clothing at the base of the door to keep smoke from entering.
  4. Call 911 if smoke comes into your apartment.

Make a plan before the next fire alarm sounds. Your plan should include all members of the household.

For more information, view the Fire Safety Handbook for Multi-Residential Buildings.