Fire life safety: empowering personal responsibility through education

Group of TCHC staff standing at a long table with brochures on it

Fire Life Safety staff and CSU officers ar Fire Safety Monday

Tenant safety, and fire life safety in particular, is top priority at Toronto Community Housing. The success of our enhanced fire life safety program is essential to ensuring tenants feel safe in their homes, and to reducing risk of damage to our properties.

In 2018 we created a new education program to further empower tenants to understand their roles in fire prevention in their homes. Tenant education is important given that six out of seven sources of fires at TCHC buildings are caused by human behaviours such as careless smoking or cooking.

TCHC's program combines education with tenant engagement. Tenants can provide meaningful insight that supports our efforts to advance a fire safety culture and create a more positive tenant experience.

TCHC delivers many elements of the program in partnership with Toronto Fire Services. Combined with proactive inspections and building maintenance, education contributed to a reduction in serious fires across our portfolio in 2018.

Summer Safety Mondays

Our Corporate Fire Life Safety team, Community Safety Unit and Interim Seniors Housing Unit partnered to implement Summer Safety Mondays, a six-week pilot program held at Greenwood Towers, a seniors-designated building. In total, 460 tenants took part.

The program aimed to increase tenant awareness through presentations, take-home educational resources and community safety and fire safety audits. It also helped staff to better understand the safety concerns of senior tenants.

According to one tenant participant, "The information provided by both security and fire safety was very informative and easy to understand. I really liked the pictures and the presentations."

Tenant fire safety ambassador pilot

The Fire Life Safety team worked with several partners to develop a fire safety tenant ambassador pilot program at five sites. Launched in late 2018, the pilot focused on tenant engagement and accountability. The ambassadors were trained to act as fire safety champions in their community and to escalate any fire hazards to site staff.

One ambassador, Ernie Coates, reached out to his neighbours to talk to them about fire issues in the building. "Our biggest problem is fire alarms from stuff like pots left on the stove," Ernie said. "This is my home…this program helps me and it helps everybody."

Fire Safety Awareness Month

TCHC partnered with Toronto Fire Services during Fire Safety Awareness Month in June to visit 16 seniors buildings, where they met with tenants to provide information about fire safety and fire prevention.

More education in 2019

Tenants have responded positively to these new education programs, which has built a strong foundation for even more engagement in 2019. As Ernie put it: "Education, education, education…the more you learn, the better you can do."

Read more stories like this in the 2018 Annual Report.