Fire Safety Tips

The Fire Department strives to prevent/reduce fires from occurring through a number of public fire and life safety education programs delivered by our Public Education Division. Educating the public about how to survive a fire and prevent fires from starting in the first place are important responsibilities.

Planning and preparation are key to being fire safe. Here are some helpful tips.

Balcony, deck and patio safety

Fires on balconies, decks and patios can be significant. Planning and preparation are key to being fire safe.

If you are a strata owner or resident, be sure to review your building’s strata bylaws, fire safety plans, and rules and regulations.

Below are some safety tips to help you reduce your chances of a fire on your balcony, deck or patio.

Smoking materials

  • Never throw cigarette butts and other smoking materials from your balcony.
  • Never discard smoking materials in vegetation such as mulch, potted plants, landscaping, peat moss, dried grasses, leaves or other things that could ignite easily.
  • Before you throw away smoking materials, make sure they are out by soaking them in water.

Barbecues/gas appliances

  • Review your apartment/condominium/townhome or any other residence’s strata bylaws, safety plans, and rules with respect to barbecues on balconies and patios. 
  • Propane, natural gas and charcoal barbecue grills should only be used outdoors and well away from the building.
  • Keep the grill clean by removing grease or fat build-up from the grills and trays below.
  • Never leave a barbecue unattended.
  • Ensure any appliance is Canadian Standards Association (CSA) approved. Follow all manufacturer installation and use requirements.

Flammable/combustible materials

  • Keep balconies, decks and patios free of flammable and combustible materials and debris, such as gasoline, paint, oil and garbage.
Carbon monoxide

Install carbon monoxide (CO) alarms on every level of your home and outside each sleeping area.

  • Ensure fuel-burning appliances, chimneys and vents are properly maintained, as well as cleaned and inspected annually. Visit to find a licensed contractor near you.
  • Never run a vehicle or other fuelled engine or motor inside a garage, even if the garage doors are open. Always remove a vehicle from the garage immediately after starting it.
  • Exposure to CO can cause flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, as well as confusion, drowsiness, loss of consciousness and death.
  • If your CO alarm sounds and you or other occupants are suffering from symptoms of CO poisoning, get everyone out of the home immediately, then call 9-1-1 from outside.
  • Know the sound of your CO alarms and test them monthly.

For more information, visit: 

Dry weather

With the extreme hot and dry weather, for the safety of our community, local parks and forested areas, the Township of Langley Fire Department is asking residents to be vigilant. Do not smoke in parks, dispose of smoking materials from vehicle windows, on the ground, in flowerbeds, trees, cedars or bark mulch. Dispose of smoking materials properly and make sure they are fully extinguished. Report any signs of smoke or fire by calling 9-1-1.

Follow these simple tips to enjoy the hot weather and help prevent brush / grass fires:

  • Do not smoke in parks, on trails or in forested areas.
  • Never dispose of smoking materials from vehicle windows or on the ground.
  • Do not dispose of cigarette butts in flower beds and bark mulch beds.
  • Use large, deep, non-tip ashtrays to prevent ashes from falling onto combustible materials.
  • Be aware of all spark and fire sources.
  • Motorized vehicles, particularly all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and dirt bikes can produce a significant amount of heat from their exhaust systems. This heat can be enough to spark a wildfire. Avoid operating any motorized vehicle in tall grass and vegetation when the weather is hot and dry.
  • Relocate combustible debris at least 10 meters away from your home.
  • Allow all lawn and farm equipment to cool before storing away.
  • Ensure your vehicle’s exhaust does not emit on a dry lawn.
  • Reduce the amount of fuel present around your house, prune your shrubs, remove dead and dry vegetation leading to your home.
  • Report any active or smoldering fires by calling 9-1-1.
Emergency vs non-emergency calls

Don’t let non-emergencies compete with real ones. Your situation is important, but 9-1-1 is for emergencies where health, safety or property is in immediate jeopardy, or a crime is in progress.

If you call 9-1-1 for a non-emergency matter, it will not result in a faster response. Emergency situations are always given priority over situations where a response is not urgent or time sensitive. Help us help keep 9-1-1 lines free for emergencies that require immediate response by looking up your local non-emergency numbers.

Learn more and find your local non-emergency numbers

Grilling safety
There's nothing like outdoor grilling! It's one of the most popular ways to cook food; however, a grill placed too close to anything that can burn is a fire hazard. Grills can also be very hot, causing burn injuries. Follow these simple tips and you will be on your way to safe grilling:
  • Check your gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. You can apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles.
  • Propane and charcoal grills should only be used outdoors.
  • The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railing, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area.
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grill and trays below.
  • Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it.
  • If the flame goes out, turn the grill and gas off and wait at least five minutes before re-lighting it.
  • If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call 9-1-1. Do not move the grill.

Learn more about grilling safety.

Holiday safety
Christmas trees:
  • Pick a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
  • Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 2” from the base of the truck.
  • Make sure your tree is at least 1 m (3 ft) away from any heat source, like fireplaces, heaters, heat vents or lights.
  • Make sure the tree is not blocking any exits.
  • Add water daily.
  • Use lights that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory. Some lights are for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords, or loose bulb connections. Read manufacturer’s instructions for the number of light strands to connect.
  • Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.
Home escape plans

Fire can spread rapidly through your home, leaving you as little as 3 minutes to escape. 

  • Make a home escape plan and discuss the plan with everyone in your home.
  • Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible.
  • Have an outside meeting place a safe distance from your home.
  • Practice your plan twice a year.
  • The most important thing to remember is GET OUT and STAY OUT, never go back inside.

Learn more about home escape plans 

Home fire sprinklers

Home sprinklers save lives and property and may also reduce homeowner’s insurance premiums. 

  • Fire departments typically use about 10 times as much water as a fire sprinkler would use to contain a fire.
  • Burnt toast will not activate a fire sprinkler. Only the high temperature of a fire will activate fire sprinklers.
  • They are easy to maintain. Just inspect your home to make sure the sprinklers are not blocked by something that would prevent water from coming out, such as paint, and be sure the main valve is never turned off.

For more information, visit: 

Just for kids

"One dark night, when we were all in bed, Mrs. O'Leary lit a lantern in the shed, And when the cow kicked it over, it winked its eye and said, There'll be a hot time in the old town tonight!"

This famous song tells of how a cow may have started the Great Fire of Chicago in 1871. The blaze ripped through the city, destroying 17,500 buildings and causing just under $200 million in damage! In those days, buildings were not as safe as they are today, so once a fire started, it spread quickly.

Could one cow really cause such destruction? Because the Great Fire caused massive damage, fire departments across the U.S. and Canada were recognized to become more like the military. This way they could be more prepared to handle huge fires such as the one in Chicago.

Each community depends on its own fire department to protect citizens from deadly fires. Until the 1930s, Township of Langley residents had to fight fires in their neighbourhoods on their own. By then, volunteer fire departments were necessary due to the growing Township population. Local men got together to help answer emergency calls in the neighbourhoods of Aldergrove, Brookswood, Fort Langley, Murrayville and Northwest Langley.

During the later 1950s and early 1960s, the volunteer fire departments partnered with the Township of Langley to build new fire halls and buy fire trucks with attached water hoses. Today, the Township of Langley has both career and paid on-call firefighters to help keep our communities safe.

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Natural gas

In homes with natural gas, it works to heat your bath, power your furnace and help you cook. Here are some helpful tips about natural gas in your home:

  • Only buy gas appliances certified by trusted testing organizations such as the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or Underwriters Laboratory (UL).
  • Have a licensed gas contractor install, inspect and maintain your furnace, hot water tank, appliances and vents regularly (in most cases annually) to ensure they are in good working condition.
  • Before natural gas is piped to your home, a chemical is added to make it smell like sulphur (or rotten eggs).
  • If you suddenly smell sulphur (or rotten eggs) or hear a hissing sound, leave the area right away and follow these steps:
    • Put out matches, candles, fires and cigarettes. DO NOT touch light switches or outlets, use the phone, or do anything that could create a spark.
    • Remove everyone from the home. Leave the doors and windows open as you leave.
    • Go to a safe place and use a cell phone or neighbour’s phone to call 9-1-1 and/or FortisBC 1-800-663-9911 (24 hours).
    • Stay outside until emergency responders say it’s safe to go back into your home.

Learn more about natural gas.

Portable fire extinguishers
It is always better to fight a fire through prevention and early detection. However, with training and education, adults can use portable fire extinguishers to extinguish small, contained fires such as a cooking pan, garbage can or campfire.
  • Before trying to put out or contain a fire, be sure that:
    • you know how to use the fire extinguisher and it is the correct type
    • everyone else is leaving the home and someone is calling 9-1-1
    • the fire is small, confined and not spreading
    • you have a clear escape route and will not be overcome by smoke
  • For the home, it is recommended to have a five-pound ABC portable extinguisher.
  • Check your fire extinguisher at least twice a year to make sure it is holding its pressure by checking the pressure gauge.
  • Make sure the powder inside the extinguisher is moving by banging the bottom of the extinguisher with your hand or a rubber mallet.

Learn more about portable fire extinguishers.

Recycle your old smoke alarm
Learn how to recycle your old smoke alarm
Safety with oily rags

How can rags start a fire?

The oils commonly used in oil-based paints and stains release heat as they dry. If the heat is not released in the air, it builds up. That is why a pile of oily rags can be dangerous. As the rags dry, the heat is trapped. The heat builds up and finally causes a fire.

How can liquids start a fire?

Vapours from flammable and combustible liquids can ignite, causing a fire. There are many commonly used flammable liquids. Gasoline, lacquers and nail polish are just a few examples. There are many commonly used combustible liquids. Paint thinner, kerosene and oil-based paints and stains are some examples.

Safety tips:

  • Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use, storage and disposal.
  • Never leave cleaning rags in a pile. At the end of the day, take the rags outside to dry.
  • Hang the rags outside or spread them on the ground. Weigh them down. Do this so they do not blow away. Make sure they are not in a pile. Keep them away from buildings.
  • Put dried rags in a metal container. Make sure the cover is tight.
  • Keep containers of oily rags in a cool place. Keep them out of direct sunlight. Keep them away from other heat sources.
School zone safety

The Township of Langley Fire Department, in partnership with ICBC, would like to remind drivers to stay focused on the road and watch for children, especially around school zones.

Every year, 380 children are injured in crashes while walking or cycling, and five are killed throughout the province.

  • A 30 km/h speed limit is in effect in school zones from 8am to 5pm. In playgrounds zones, a 30 km/h speed limit is in effect every day from dawn until dusk.
  • Watch for school buses. When their lights are flashing, vehicles approaching from both directions must stop.
  • If you drop off your child in a school zone, allow them to exit the car on the side closest to the sidewalk. Never allow a child to cross the street mid-block.
  • If a vehicle is stopped in front of you, or in the lane next to you, they may be yielding to a pedestrian, so proceed with caution and be prepared to stop.
  • For more information, visit Educators, did you know ICBC offers free learning resources developed to teach BC students road safety? These resources meet the Ministry of Education’s curriculum guidelines from Preschool to Grade 10. View ICBC’s Road Safety Resources for Teachers.
Smoke alarms

It’s a fact – smoke alarms save lives.

  • Install smoke alarms outside each sleeping area, on every level of the home, including the basement, and inside every bedroom.
  • For best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms so when one sounds they all sound
  • The functionality of smoke alarms deteriorates with time.
  • The law requires smoke alarms be installed and landlords are required to ensure their rental properties comply with the law.
  • Smoke alarms should be tested once a month and the batteries should be changed every daylight savings.
  • Smoke alarms should be replaced according to manufacturer's suggestions or every 10 years, whichever comes first.

Learn more about smoke alarms

Winter safety
  • Be ready in case the power goes out. Have flashlights on hand; never use candles.
  • Stay away from downed wires. Report any fallen or broken power lines and stay at least 10 m or a bus-length away (33 ft). Then, call 9-1-1 and ensure no other bystanders move within 10 m of the line.
  • Have your furnace, chimneys and vents, cleaned, inspected and serviced by a qualified professional at least once a year.
  • Make sure the fireplace screen is metal or made of heat-tempered glass. Ensure it is in good condition and secure in its position in front of the fireplace.
  • Be ready if the heat stops working. Use extra layers of clothing and blankets to stay warm.
  • When using a portable space heater, make sure it has an automatic shut off, is plugged directly into an outlet, and is placed at least 1 m (3 ft) from anything that can burn, including bedding, paper, walls and people. Turn off portable heaters before leaving the room, the house or going to bed.
  • Generators should be used outdoors. Keep them away from windows and doors. Do not run a generator inside your garage, even if the door is open.
  • Often called the invisible killer, carbon monoxide (CO) is an odourless, colourless gas created when fuels such as gasoline, wood, coal, propane, etc. do not burn completely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel are potential sources of CO. Carbon monoxide incidents are more common during the winter months and in residential properties. 

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