How the Property Manager’s Role in Fire Safety Has Evolved Over the Years

A few decades ago, a building manager had to oversee a fire safety system that was not much more than a pull station and a bell.

Today, buildings are considerably more complex and the life safety systems that protect them are incredibly intricate. This means that modern property managers need to invest far more of their time and their budget to make sure these systems are fully functional and compliant.

Today’s property manager has their work cut out for them. They have to deal with challenges such as:

  • An unprecedented number of people working from home, which leads to unprecedented risks.
  • Homes are more flammable. In the 1970s, it took 30 minutes for a fire to engulf a room. Today’s synthetic materials will cause a room to go up in about 2.5 minutes.
  • A large number of people smoke tobacco and cannabis at home, and sometimes flicking butts off the side of balconies.
  • Life safety systems have never been more complex. This means that keeping them compliant has never been more difficult.

To help make things a bit easier on modern property managers, we thought we would answer some of the most common questions they ask us.

How Do We Know Where to Find Our Building's Compliance Obligations?

It’s all in your Fire Safety Plan (FSP), but The FSP is not always clearly understood.

The first thing you need to do is identify which responsibilities your contractor will take care of and which ones your staff will take care of.

At the same time, building-specific training needs to be conducted to ensure the actions are completed and recorded properly.

Your residents also need to be educated about their obligations and they should be informed of building fire safety features.

The Ontario Fire Code also requires your FSP to be reviewed at a minimum of once per year and at intervals where updating is required. 

It’s recommended that your plan is reviewed by a professional every 3-5 years, to keep up with potential code changes. Even if your building hasn’t changed, it’s very possible the fire code has in some way.

What Fire Safety Records are to be Maintained by the Corporation?

The fire code and your FSP should list the maintenance records that are to be kept for two years and fire drill records should be kept for one year.

This includes:

  1. All fire code safety system’s periodic testing
  2. Inspections and maintenance records by contractors and staff for:
  • Fire extinguishers and hoses
  • Sprinklers
  • Hydrants
  • Exit signs, means of egress fire doors, suite doors
  • Emergency lighting, generators
  • Fire alarm and emergency voice systems
  • Fire elevators
  • Smoke control, Part 7 integrated testing
  • Flues and fire dampers
  • Fire drills and training

Some systems (i.e. sprinkler systems) have periodic testing over the years and records of these incremental tests should be retained permanently.

Who Should Maintain Smoke Alarms?

This is an incredibly important question, so we want you to be 100% clear on the answer.

Depending on the age of the unit, some smoke alarms are battery-operated while others are hardwired into the building’s electrical system.

If the smoke alarm has a test button, it should be checked by the unit owner monthly and at any intervals when there is no one in the suite for two weeks.

Most individual condo townhomes are responsible to check their own smoke alarms. Most stacked or multi-story condo smoke alarms are tested annually by staff or the fire alarm service provider.

Who is Responsible for Checking Dryer Vents? And How Often?

Failure to clean the dryer is the leading cause of home clothes dryer fires and accounts for about a third of these fires.

How flammable is dryer lint? A lot of camping/cottaging experts recommend saving it up and using it to start campfires. Try it and you’ll see why!

In general, the homeowner is responsible to check:

  • Dryer vents
  • In the dryer
  • Behind the dryer
  • More remote lint traps

The building is generally required to check common laundry rooms, as well as all systemic flues and venting systems. Some buildings mandate or offer in-unit dryer cleaning and include it in maintenance fees or chargebacks.

How Can We Simplify Building and Fire Code Compliance?

As you can see, fire code safety has gone from a small item on a property manager’s checklist to nearly a full-time job.

You don’t need to do this alone! We have helped countless property managers like you prepare for inspections, while also helping them build the processes and systems they need for future success and ongoing compliance.

You can start right now by contacting us at 1(800) 281-8863 or clicking here.

COVID-19 Update

As a company whose business revolves around Safety and Prevention, we have been monitoring the COVID-19 situation as it unfolds. We have developed internal and external policies to keep our team and yours safe. We will continue to monitor this situation and are continuing to develop a variety of contingency plans which we will activate accordingly as necessary.
What we are doing to keep our team and yours safe:
What we ask of you:
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.
The health and safety of both our team and yours is of the utmost importance. If you have any questions about our policies or would like to request more information about them please reach out to our team at

Safe Wishes,
Michele Farley
President & Senior Code Consultant
FCS Fire Consulting Services LTD