Image of fire and smoke outside of a building

If your smoke detector goes off or if you notice a fire, remain calm. Do not try to fight a major fire.

Plan Ahead

  • Keep a portable ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher in your home. Wet K class extinguishers are recommended for stove top fires.
  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors within 15 feet of each bedroom entrance. Check the batteries at least twice a year, like during daylight saving times.
    • Carbon monoxide detectors should not be placed within five feet of any cooking appliance.
    • If you have a smoke alarm near the kitchen, consider installing a photoelectric alarm. These alarms are less sensitive to cooking smoke.

What to Do

  • If a fire breaks out in your house or non-fireproof apartment building (generally six stories or fewer), get everyone out as soon as possible and close (but do not lock) all doors behind you.
  • If your clothes catch on fire, Stop where you are, Drop to the ground, and Roll over and over to smother the flames. Cover your face to protect your lungs from the smoke.
  • If you live in a high-rise multiple dwelling, and the fire is not in your apartment, stay in your apartment rather than entering smoke-filled hallways. Keep windows closed, especially if the fire is in the apartment below.
  • In high-rise office buildings, only evacuate if the fire is on your floor or the one above it, and descend to the second floor below the fire floor. Other occupants should stay on their floor and monitor the PA system for further instructions. (Note: evacuation of other floors may be left to the fires safety director to announce to occupants.)
  • Feel doors with the back of your hand before you open them. If they are hot, find another way out.
  • When exiting, stay as close to the floor as possible — smoke and heat rise and the air is clearer and cooler near the floor. Close doors behind you.
  • If you are unable to get out of your home for any reason, stay near a window and close to the floor. Close the door and stuff the bottom with a towel to avoid smoke. If possible, signal for help by waving a cloth outside the window.
  • Call 911 from a safe place, such as a neighbor's house.
  • Do not stop to get anything.
  • Do not use the elevator.
  • Consider renter's insurance if you rent an apartment.

Brush Fires

As temperatures climb and vegetation dries out, New York City's outer-borough grasslands face an increased risk of brush fires. Find out what you can do to help minimize that risk.

New York City's outer-borough grasslands are prone to brush fires when vegetation is dry. Most brush fires in New York City are small and do not affect buildings. However, there are many areas where homes and buildings are near open areas with minimal or no natural buffers — particularly on Staten Island. Residents of these communities should take steps to make their homes less vulnerable to such hazards.


  • Keep your lawn, trees, and plants well watered.
  • Inspect and remove old or dead vegetation and debris from around your property, including roofs, crawlspaces, vents, decks, etc., to reduce fire fuel.
  • Use non-flammable plants for landscaping.
  • Create islands of vegetation and remove large bushes under trees so that fire does not have a path to your house. Do not plant trees and plants too close to structures and under overhangs or eaves.

Home Maintenance

  • Properly dispose of trash and debris, removing furniture, boxes and other material from your property.
  • Avoid building structures with combustible materials.
  • Store flammable liquids properly. Refuel garden equipment carefully.
  • If you smoke, use an ashtray and dispose of cigarettes carefully.
  • Remove leaf clutter from roof and gutters. Cut tree branches that are within six feet of your roof.
  • Find out your roof's fire rating. If your roof needs to be replaced, Class A provides the best fire resistance and best protection. Visit the Underwriters Laboratory website,, for additional guidance.

National Weather Service Terms

  • Fire Weather Watch is used to advise of the possible development of a red flag event in the near future, and is issued when the combination of dry fuels and weather conditions support extreme fire danger. A Fire Weather Watch can be issued up to 72 hours before conditions are expected to occur.
  • Red Flag Warning is issued to indicate that the combination of dry fuels and weather conditions will support extreme fire danger and/or fire behavior, including the potential for widespread new ignitions or control problems with existing fires. A Fire Weather Watch may (or may not) precede a Red Flag Warning.

More Resources

Fire Safety (FDNY)