Posted August 18th, 2015 by Fire & Life Safety America

In case of an emergency, most people want to help. It’s an immediate reaction to lend a hand, to assist those in need, and to help everyone survive a situation. But sometimes good intentions can actually cause more harm than good. So how do you lend a hand if there is a fire without getting in the way of first-responders?

To start, ensure proper authorities arrive on scene by notifying them immediately in case of a fire or smoke by pulling the nearest fire alarm as you exit the building. Once you’re in a safe area, call 9-1-1. It is important to remain calm and speak clearly so that the dispatcher can provide the responders with as much information as possible.

When evacuating a building, be sure to feel for heat before opening a door. If there is significant heat, do not open the door and instead, find an alternative route. If smoke exists, stay low to the ground and remain calm, making yourself more aware of your surroundings and giving yourself a calmer environment to make good decisions.


  • Routinely inspect and update your fire and life safety equipment.
  • Keep adequate records of your equipment and their inspection dates.
  • Keep doorways and corridors clear.
  • Be aware of any flammable material and share their specific location(s) with first responders.
  • Close a door behind you if it is safe and clear as you exit the structure.
  • Make note of other people who may be around. Notify a responder if someone is unaccounted for.
  • Move your vehicle if it could interfere with a passage for firefighters or firefighting equipment.
  • Be ready to answer questions and offer details of the home, building as well as where the fire originated.


  • Don’t get in the way. Stand at a safe distance and let the first responders do their job.
  • Don’t use elevators during a fire emergency.
  • Do not re-enter the building for any reason.
  • Do not tamper with any fire safety systems or fire safety equipment.
  • Do not raise false alarms.
  • Do not continually interrupt responders with questions and concerns. There will be time for that later.

In the instance of a fire, remembering that first responders are trained professionals dedicated to saving lives and property in extreme conditions is as important as allowing the fire protection systems installed to do their jobs. First responders and updated fire and life safety equipment that is routinely inspected and maintained, will help save life and property. Knowing how to respond and what is considered helpful versus a hindrance in an emergency situation can sometimes be the difference between saving a life or property.