Public education

Waterloo Fire Rescue’s Fire Prevention Division provides fire safety and prevention services and education for homes, offices and schools. Each year we visit 4,500 homes to educate residents on fire safety.

The program reminds people to check smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and have a fire escape plan. 

On this page

  1. Fire prevention week
  2. Request public education using the Fire Prevention service request form
  3. Safety tips
  4. Be prepared for an emergency
  5. Fire extinguisher training
  6. Contact a public education officer

Fire Prevention Week

Fire Prevention Week takes place annually in October. A specialized theme is selected each year to educate children to recognize fire hazards, listen for alarms and escape a fire safely. 

Request public education from the Fire Prevention Division

Contact Fire Prevention

Safety tips

While our educational programs are mostly in person, common safety tips are provided below. The Ontario Fire Marshal website has more information. To book a visit from a public education officer, call 519-884-2121

Smoke alarms

The Ontario Fire Code requires a working smoke alarm on every floor in a home and outside all sleeping areas. For maximum protection we recommend smoke alarms in every bedroom.

Tips for best smoke alarm use:

  • when installing smoke alarms refer to the manufacturers instructions for best placement
  • test your alarm monthly using the test button
  • replace alarm batteries once a year or whenever you hear the low-battery chirp
  • replace alarms within the time frame advised by the manufacturers, typically within 10 years

Carbon monoxide alarms

It is the law to have a carbon monoxide alarm if your home or garage has fuel-fire appliances such as a furnace, water heater, stove or fireplace. 

If so, working alarms are required on every sleeping level of the home.

If you hear the alarm sound, evacuate your home and call 911. Do not go back inside until firefighters have said it is safe to do so.

Tips for best use:

  • get an annual inspection for all fuel-burning appliances in your home
  • ensure that outside furnace vents are not blocked
  • do not use portable fuel-burning appliances in enclosed spaces
  • test alarm monthly using the test button
  • replace alarm batteries once a year or whenever you hear the low-battery chirp
  • replace alarms within the time frame advised by the manufacturers, typically within 10 years

For more information visit COsafety website.

Develop a home escape plan

Fire can spread rapidly through your home, leaving you with less than two minutes to escape safely once a fire has started. It is important to know to do when the smoke alarm sounds.

  1. develop a home fire escape plan - know what to do when the smoke alarm sounds
  2. practise your escape plan
  3. make sure everyone know two way out of each room, if possible
  4. help those who need it - who will help children, older adults and anyone with a disability
  5. get low and go - under the smoke and to the nearest safe exit
  6. choose a meeting place outside - a safe distance from your home
  7. get out, stay out - never re-enter a burning building

Kitchen and barbecue safety 

Leaving cooking unattended is the number one cause of home fires. The tips below will help reduce the risk of kitchen fires:

  • stay in the kitchen when cooking, especially if using oil or cooking at high temperatures
  • keep items such as cooking utensils, dishcloths, paper towels and pot holders away from heat
  • keep children away from cooking areas and turn pot handles inwards
  • do not wear loose fitting clothing as it is easier to catch fire - stop, drop and roll if your clothing catches fire
  • enjoy a drink while eating the meal, not preparing the meal as many fatal fires occur when people are impaired

Barbecue safety:

  • open the lid when lighting the barbecue with a match
  • keep the barbecue away from combustible items and never keep it in a garage
  • store propane cylinders in upright and well-ventilated areas
  • check that the fitting that connects the barbecue hose is not cracked or bent
  • propane cylinders must be recertified every 10 years

Be prepared for an emergency

It’s important to have a plan in place before an emergency happens. If there is a community-wide emergency like an extended power outage or extreme heat, it might take a while for help to arrive.

Make sure you have what you need to get through at least 72 hours.

Make your plan and emergency kit

Every household should have an emergency plan and a 72-hour emergency kit. Use this guide to create a plan that meets your family's needs

Ensure everyone’s safety

Emergency Management Ontario offers additional emergency planning advice for:

Sign up for emergency alerts

Stay informed during emergencies by signing up for safety messages from Alert Waterloo Region. You can also learn about what to do beforeduring and after an emergency.

Find more information

For more information on emergency preparedness, check out these resources:

Having a plan and emergency kit helps keep everyone safe. Start preparing today!

Fire extinguisher training

If you would like to receive fire extinguisher training, please contact a third party organization. Waterloo Fire Rescue does not provide this service.

Contact a public education officer

If you have a question regarding general fire safety such as the use of smoke or carbon monoxide (CO) alarms, fire extinguishers, open burning or any other general inquires, contact the public education officer by telephone at 519-884-2121 or by email at