Prevent Fires

Steps you can take to help stop fires from happening.

Fire prevention reminders

Cooking is the main cause of home fires. 

To prevent cooking fires:

  • Never leave cooking unattended.
  • If you are distracted or need to leave, turn off your cooking appliance.
  • If a pot catches fire, and it is safe to do so, slide the lid over the pot to smother the flames and turn off the stove.
  • If you have a fire in the oven or microwave, turn it off and keep the door closed.
  • Keep items like cooking utensils, dishcloths, paper towels and pot holders a safe distance from the stove.
  • Loose fitting clothing can catch fire. Wear tight sleeves or roll them up when cooking. 
  • Have an adult is present when young children are in the kitchen and keep a one-metre “kid-free zone” around your appliances when cooking. Turn pot and pan handles inward, out of a child’s reach.
  • Avoid using appliances like slow cookers or ovens when no one is home, or everybody is asleep.

To prevent electrical fires:

  • Only a certified electrician should change plugs, switches and wiring. 
  • Have professionals install ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) in bathrooms, kitchens and garages to shut off electrical circuits when becoming a shock hazard.
  • Avoid overloading outlets. Household circuits are designed to carry a load 15 amp fuse.
  • Only use extension cords for temporary connections. A power bar with a built-in breaker is a good alternative to standard extension cords.
  • Plug heavy appliances like air conditioners, clothes dryers and washing machines directly into an outlet.
  • Always plug a portable space heater directly into the wall and not into an extension cord or power bar. These items are not designed to handle the load of a space heater and may cause a fire.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the safe use of clothes dryers. Inspect and clean the lint screen after every load of laundry.
  • Check electrical cords for damage, such as fraying or nicks, which can cause electrical shock and fire hazards. Avoid running cords under rugs, which can damage the cord and cause a fire.

Signs of electrical hazards:

  • Sparking from switches or receptacles.
  • Connections or splices in wires not made in junction boxes.
  • Open junction boxes and cover plates missing from switches and receptacles.
  • Extension cords used as permanent wiring.
  • Over-fusing.
  • Ground pins removed or bypassed on appliances with three prong plugs.

Fire extinguishers are not required in family dwellings and can create a false sense of security.  

Only trained adults should use one if:

  • The fire is confined to a small area, such as a wastebasket.
  • The fire is not growing and the room is not filling with smoke.
  • There is a clear, unobstructed exit between you and the fire.
  • Everyone has exited the building.
  • The fire department has been called or is being called from outside of the home.

Extinguisher use

If you chose to have an extinguisher, make sure you know how to properly use it before a fire breaks out.  

To operate an extinguisher, remember the acronym PASS:

  • Pull the pin.  Hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you and release the locking mechanism.
  • Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire.
  • Squeeze the handle slowly and evenly
  • Sweep the nozzle from side to side

Know when to go. Fire extinguishers are one element of a fire response plan; but, the primary element is safe escape.  Every household should have a home escape plan and working smoke alarms.

Extinguisher type

Fire extinguishers for home use should have the following characteristics:

  • Minimum rating of 2A:10B:C
  • Multi-purpose dry chemical


Check your extinguishers monthly to make sure:

  • The pin is in place.
  • The seal is not broken.
  • The required pressure gauge readings are met.
  • The discharge nozzle is not obstructed.

Servicing and disposal

Extinguishers should be serviced every six years and/or according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  

Dispose of extinguishers at the Household Hazardous Waste Depot, located at the Halton Waste Management Site.

Fire blankets are not mandated by legislation and households are not required to buy them. 

Marketers often promote fire blankets as effective in suppressing small fires, but knowing when and how to use them requires high alertness. 

The instructions on fire blankets are often vague, advising users to simply “toss over fires” with no distance specified. To be effective in smothering a kitchen fire, a fire blanket must land flat and on target without sliding off the pan. 

Using a fire blanket is risky and could move the direction and intensity of fire, particularly if individuals adjust or re-toss the blanket over the fire.

Marina fire prevention

  • When docking, check for fire protective measures like fire extinguishers, cleanliness, clear passageways, and lighting. If you don't feel safe, notify marina staff.
  • Use CSA or ULC marine approved cord sets and connections. Do not hook up if you see burn marks or your cord set will not firmly connect.
  • Cord sets and shore power connections should be replaced routinely.
  • Regularly inspect electrical and fuel systems. Have a professional upgrade wiring to maintain the needs of your navigational equipment and other appliances.
  • Never leave operating electrical equipment, including heaters, unattended. When leaving your boat for any reason, turn off portable heaters.
  • Smoke alarms should be installed in your boat.
  • Have an escape plan in case of emergency.
  • Have an approved fire extinguisher on board and know how to use it. 
  • Properly dispose of oily rags in a metal container with a tight fitting lid. 

Fire extinguishers on your boat

  • Coast Guard approved extinguishers required for boats are hand portable, either 5BC or 1OBC classification and have a specific marine type-mounting bracket.
  • A fire extinguisher you choose must be certified and labelled by the US/CON Coast Guard (for marine use) ULC or UL.
  • It is recommended the extinguishers be mounted in a readily accessible position, away from the areas where a fire could likely start.

For more information about boating safety, visit the Transport Canada website.

Lifejackets and Personal Flotation Devices (PFD)

You are required by law to have a lifejacket or PFD (Personal Flotation Device) on board for each person on a watercraft. This includes human-powered craft like canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards.

For information on PFD requirements visit the Government of Canada Boating Safety website.

Recreational burning

  • Smoke and odour from outdoor fires is to be contained to the property of origin and cannot impact neighbours’ ability to enjoy their property.
  • Burning is to be between 10 a.m. and 11 p.m.
  • Maximum fire pit size to be two feet by two feet by 16 inches high and no more than eight inches above grade.
  • Only charcoal or clean, dry, seasoned wood without preservatives can be burned.
  • Burning must be at least three metres from adjacent properties and any combustible materials.
  • A charged water hose or 2A fire extinguisher should be nearby.
  • Burning must be supervised by an adult at all times.
  • Burning must happen in favourable weather: no fog, no smog alert, winds to less than 30 km/hr.
  • Smoke may not obscure roads and homes. Sparks may not travel to nearby homes.
  • Open air burning is permitted at ground level only.

Open air farm/rural burning

The Fire department is to be notified prior to rural burning and also at the conclusion of the burn. Please call 905-637-8253. 

  • Burning is to be between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Only dry brush is permitted for burning.
  • Burning must be at least 45 metres from adjacent property, structures, roads, highways or wooded areas. Smoke may not obscure roads and homes.
  • Burning must be supervised by an adult at all times.
  • Fire must be completely extinguished prior to burn site being vacated.
  • Burning must happen in favourable weather conditions: no fog, no smog alert, winds to less than 30 km/hr.


Open air burning fire permits are required for the following types of fires:

  • Special event reoccurring over an extended period of time (Call Fire Prevention 905-338-4404)
  • Strike/picketers
  • Any type of fire that is not exempt as per section 2.2, 2.3, 2.4 and Part 3 of the by-law

Permit arrangements must be made at least one week prior to the event by contacting the Oakville Fire department's Prevention Division at 905-338-4404.


All persons shall immediately extinguish open air fires upon notification that in the Fire Chief's opinion:

  • The fire presents a hazard
  • The fire has a negative impact on persons
  • There is a contravention of the by-law

The person who owns or occupies the land will be responsible for costs incurred to extinguish the fire if they fail to comply with the fire official’s requests and/or on the third attendance in a calendar year to the same municipal address.

Municipal parks

Fires are not permitted in town parks.

If you spot a bonfire in one of our parks, please call 9-1-1 so Oakville Fire suppression crews can be dispatched. Uncontrolled fires in our parks are dangerous, prohibited by our Parks By-law and can result in a $300 fine. Let's keep our parks safe!

Personal barbeques may not be brought to our parks.


  • Check propane tanks for leaks at the beginning of each season and after every tank-change.
  • Supervise lit barbeques at all times.
  • Set up barbeques on non-flammable surfaces.
  • Propane tanks should be stored and transported in the upright position.
  • Propane tanks and barbeques should be stored outside of your home at least one metre away from any building. They may also be stored in ventilated, detached buildings, such as sheds or garages.
  • Propane and charcoal barbeques should only be used outdoors.

For more helpful tips, watch our BBQ Safety video on YouTube.

Sheridan College and the Oakville Fire Department work together to help students transition or return to their off-campus accommodations. Students and their families should know the legislative requirements and make a fire safe living arrangements a priority.

Off-campus housing fire safety checklist

Download and print this fire safety checklist (pdf) before you sign the lease for off-campus housing to make sure the house is safe. Ask the owner questions and take a look around the home using the following checklist to ensure it is safe for you to live in:

  • Does the house comply with the Ontario Fire Code?
  • Are there working smoking alarms on every floor and outside sleeping areas?
  • Are there working carbon monoxide alarms outside all sleeping areas?
  • Are there at least two exits from each floor?
  • Do all windows and doors open easily?

Oakville Fire wants to ensure students and parents understand how to create safe spaces. If you have concerns, email the Oakville Fire Department at or call 905-338-4404 for an inspection of the home.

For more information about student accommodation fire safety, check out Sheridan College’s Fire Safety page.


For more information about fire prevention, to book an inspection or a public education event, contact: