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Langley fires prompt warning about balcony and deck fires

Langley Township has tips to stay safer in outdoor spaces that can be the scene of fires
Work is beginning on Madison Place, the condo building on 56th Avenue at 197th Street after a fire Friday, July 17. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

Langley Township is warning people to think about fire safety on balconies, decks and patios.

The community has seen the impacts of fires that have started in these outdoor areas and caused significant damage.

“If you live in a strata complex, it is not just about you,” Township fire chief Steve Gamble said. “Condominiums and townhouses are places where many people live, and fire can impact the residents around you.”

• READ MORE: Residents concerned for pets at Langley condo fire site

On any summer day, people can be found out on their balconies, decks, and patios. But great care must be taken when cooking and using smoking materials to avoid devastating fires that can destroy homes and lives.

Last month, fire engulfed Madison Place, a condominium complex in the City. Township fire crews were called in to help fight that blaze, which was an important reminder of the need to always be careful when using heat or flames in outside areas.

“It got everybody’s attention,”Gamble said. “Fires on balconies and decks are a challenge. Anything on balconies, not just grills, but heaters and smoking materials, pose a danger if they are mishandled or procedures are not followed correctly.”

The result can be catastrophic, not just for those within the home, but for everyone near them.

• READ MORE: Paddington Station fire investigation begins

Carelessly tossing away smoking material, improper use of outdoor appliances, or a momentary lapse in concentration when cooking – whether going inside to grab something or checking on the kids – could have horrific results, as fire can ignite in an instant.

“Even if your building has sprinklers, you still need to be fire smart,” Gamble noted. “People need to be cautious, follow appliance instructions and use them as directed, and don’t leave things unattended.”

To help keep residents safe this summer, the Township Fire Department is issuing the following information on balcony fire safety. For more information, visit

Balcony fire safety

  • Balcony fires can be significant, whether your building has sprinklers or not.
  • If you are a strata owner or resident, be sure to review your building’s strata bylaws, fire safety plans, and rules and regulations.

Reduce your chances of a fire on your balcony:

Smoking materials

  • Never throw cigarette butts, and other smoking materials, from the balcony.
  • Never discard smoking materials in vegetation such as mulch, potted plants, landscaping, peat moss, dried grasses, leaves, or other things that could ignite easily.
  • Before you throw away smoking materials, make sure they are out by soaking them in water.

Barbecues/gas appliances

  • Review your apartment / condominium / townhome or any other residence’s strata bylaws, safety plans, and rules with respect to barbecues on balconies.
  • Propane, natural gas, and charcoal barbecue grills should only be used outdoors and kept well away from the building.
  • Keep the grill clean by removing grease or fat build-up from the grills and trays below.
  • Never leave a barbecue unattended.
  • Ensure any appliance is CSA approved. Follow all manufacturer’s installation and use requirements.

Flammable/combustible materials

  • Keep balconies free of flammable and combustible materials and debris, such as gasoline, paint, oil, and garbage.

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About the Author: Langley Advance Times Staff

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