Balcony Smokers and ‘Flicking Idiots’ are a Growing Safety Problem For Toronto’s Condos

The number of fires started by people carelessly flicking lit cigarettes/ cannabis off of balconies has been on the rise in recent years. How serious has this problem become? A few years ago, Toronto Fire Services unveiled a very aggressive ‘Don’t Be a Flicking Idiot’ campaign to raise awareness. 

Their campaign was unveiled in 2017 when local fire services reported that smoking-related fires were out of control. By June of 2017, they had already responded to more smoking-related calls than they did in all of 2016.

A few years later, this is still a very serious problem. Last June, this Toronto apartment owner was left homeless after someone’s careless cigarette started a fire on their balcony in the middle of the night.

In March of this year, 9 different residents from a Brandon condo building filed separate lawsuits against their neighbour, alleging that a fire originated in her unit after she was smoking on her balcony. 

What Can Be Done By Residents

First and foremost, if you or a guest is going to smoke on your balcony, make sure that you have a proper receptacle to place the butt. This means something like a metal can with sand or water. 

The second thing you can do is make it perfectly clear to your guests and neighbours that you have absolutely zero tolerance for butts being flicked. Building managers and fire departments cannot be there the moment a cigarette butt is about to be flicked, but you can. Hold your neighbours and your guests to a high fire safety standard.

If you’re a devout non-smoker and really just want to avoid this problem completely, you can use this directory to find a smoke-free building to live in.

What Can Be Done By Condo Boards/ Condo Building Owners

Landlords and building owners in Ontario are within their legal right to ban smoking of all kinds in the building’s: 

  • Indoor units
  • Outdoor patios/ common outdoor areas
  • Balconies
  • Parking areas

You can also display targeted signage around the building, making your policy abundantly clear while encouraging all of your residents to help you enforce it. Let them know you’re counting on them to help control this very serious problem.

Your no-smoking policies are legal and enforceable! However, the tricky part is that you can include a new non-smoking clause in agreements with new tenants, but you can’t retroactively add these clauses to existing agreements. That means a resident can continue to smoke in their apartment/ condo until their agreement is up.

A Smoking Problem

These smoking units can be particularly bothersome and expensive for building owners. 

First of all, a study of Ontario homes showed that smoking in the home can lessen its value by up to 29%, so a smoked-in unit faces greatly depreciated value over time. Meanwhile, if a smoker’s neighbour is complaining about secondhand smoke leaking into their indoor space, it’s your responsibility to help them. 

According to the city of Toronto, there is no specific verbiage related to smoking, but it is your legal responsibility as a landlord to ensure your residents are as comfortable as possible. Secondhand smoke in their apartment would certainly qualify as uncomfortable.

Looking to Make Your Building as Safe as Possible?

Anyone looking to make their building a smoke-free zone is encouraged to click here for more information.

Or, if you have any questions about Ontario’s Fire codes, click here to contact us any time.

COVID-19 Update

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We have every intention of continuing regular operation, with the safety of your team and ours being the top priority. We are taking steps to ensure no on-site services are impacted, however, will re-scheduling if necessary, based onsafety concerns or if quarantines are mandated.
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Safe Wishes,
Michele Farley
President & Senior Code Consultant
FCS Fire Consulting Services LTD