Secondary suite safety

Secondary suite safety

Calgarians living in secondary suites need to have a fire safety plan in case of a fire.

Secondary suite owners should consult the City of Calgary bylaws to ensure a safe living space.

Home Escape Plan


Have you ever wondered what you would do if there was a fire your home?

Or why it is important to have a fire escape plan?

Fires can be scary and confusing. They can be loud, burn very fast, and their smoke can make a room very dark. It helps to have a plan so you'll know what to do to get out of your school or home. Don't forget:

  • Try to find two ways out from every room in your home.
  • The first way out should be a door. Every way needs to be planned and practiced. 
  • Before opening any door in a fire, feel it first. If it is hot, there may be fire on the other side. Try to get out another way.
  • Stay low to the floor when escaping a fire.
  • Pick a safe and easy-to-remember place outside the home.
  • Stay outside no matter what. Don't go back for anything!
  • Remain calm, walk don't run.

Safety considerations in any secondary suite


Each bedroom must have at least one window that can be fully opened and used to escape during an emergency, such as a fire.

  • The windows must be openable without the use of keys, tools, or special knowledge and without the removal of sashes or hardware. 
  • The window must have an unobstructed opening of 0.35 m2 (3.8 ft2) in area and no dimension less than 380 mm (15").
  • An existing window well must provide a minimum clearance of 550 mm (21.5") in front of the window.
  • If installing a new window, the window well must provide a minimum clearance of 760 mm (30") in front of the window.
  • If a casement-type window is used, it must swing open a full 90 degrees.

Smoke alarms


Smoke alarms, when properly installed, tested, and maintained, provide the best early warning system in the event of a house fire. Detection and warning of smoke and fire saves lives and reduces damage to homes and personal belongings.

Smoke alarms are essential in a secondary suite.

Learn more information on how to install, maintain and check the expiry of your smoke alarms.

Carbon monoxide alarms


CO alarms provide the only warning of dangerous carbon monoxide gases in your home.

The most common source of gas in your home is your furnace, which is often in or near a secondary suite.

There should be at least one CO alarm in a secondary suite, the most important location for the alarm is near the bedrooms.

Learn about symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure, carbon monoxide alarms, including how to install and test alarms.

Additional resources


As a tenant, it is important to make sure that your secondary suite is legal. This means that it has been inspected by The City of Calgary and meets minimum safety requirements under the National Building Code. Please click here for more information.

You can also find more information on how to build, legalize or rent a secondary suite here.

Other resources


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