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Municipality of the District of Chester
Fire & Emergency Response

Everyday Canadians experience the horror of fire. But most people don't really understand it. Only when we know the true nature of fire can we prepare ourselves and our families.  

Each year many Canadians are injured or die in fires, many of which could have been prevented. We need to understand the nature of fire in order that we can do the things necessary to prevent a fire emergency situation.
Here are some simple facts that explain the particular characteristics of fire.


In your home, in less than 30 seconds a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire. It only takes a few minutes for thick black smoke to fill a house and very quickly the house can be completely engulfed in flames.

Most fires occur in the home when people are asleep. If you wake up to a fire, you just won't have time to grab valuables because fire spreads too quickly and the smoke is too thick. There is literally only time to escape the area and get outside of the house.


The heat generated by a fire in your house is actually more threatening to you than the flames. A fire's heat alone can kill. Room temperatures in a fire can be 100 degrees C at floor level and rise to 600 degrees C at eye level. Inhaling this super hot air will scorch your lungs. This heat can melt clothes to your skin. In five minutes a room can get so hot that everything in it ignites at once: this is called flashover.


Although the initial flames from a fire can be bright, the fire will quiclky generate thick grey black smoke which will reduce your visibility to nearly zero. If you wake up to a fire you may be in panic, disoriented and unable to find your way around the home you've lived in for years. You need to have an escape plan and practice it with your family on a regular basis.


Smoke and toxic gases from the fire kill more people than the actual flames do. Fire needs oxygen to burn and will consume it quickly. This leaves little for you to breath. Also, the smoke from a fire is hot and contains many poisonous gases. Breathing even small amounts of smoke and toxic gases can make you drowsy, disoriented and short of breath. These toxic gases can overcome and kill you in a very short time, even while you sleep or before you have had a chance to ecsape. Realize that the early detection of smoke with a good smoke detector will give you the best chance to get out alive.

In the event of a fire, time is the enemy and every second counts!


  • Escape first, then call for help.
  • Develop a home fire escape plan and designate a meeting place outside.
  • Make sure everyone in the family knows two ways to escape from every room.
  • Practice feeling your way out with your eyes closed.
  • Never stand up in a fire, always crawl low under the smoke and try to keep your mouth covered.
  • Never return to a burning building for any reason; it may cost you your life.
  • Have a working smoke detector in each room of your house.
  • Practice your home escape plan frequently with your family.