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Fires in multi-family buildings often originate on balconies due to the improper disposal of smoking materials in planter pots or other inappropriate receptacles. These fires are able to spread quickly and undetected between units due to wind, lack of sprinkler systems, and lack of fire alarm systems on balconies. 

Given their size and fuel load, fires in multi-family buildings pose a significant threat to the air quality and environment of our city. They often result in significant and devastating damage, and are a hazard to the entire building as well as surrounding buildings.

Multi-family Building Residents

Residents are asked to take the proper safety precautions when disposing of cigarettes or other smoking materials:

  • Refrain from smoking on balconies if it is restricted by the property owner 
  • If smoking is permitted, dispose of smoking materials in deep, non-combustible ashtrays
  • Always wet cigarette butts and matches before putting them in a garbage container
  • Always keep lighters, matches and cigarettes out of the reach of children 
  • Never extinguish smoking materials in plant pots, which contain combustible materials
  • Never discard smoking materials on the ground, in garbages, or in dry, grassy areas

Property Owners or Agents

In multi-family buildings, it is the property owner or agent’s responsibility to maintain their properties according to the Alberta Fire Code. EFRS is asking property owners and agents to voluntarily determine if each balcony of their building(s) will be considered a smoking or a non-smoking area.

  • On balconies deemed smoking areas, EFRS is encouraging owners and agents provide an ashtray. These ashtrays should be weather resistant enclosed receptacles, designed for smoking materials.
  • On balconies deemed non-smoking areas, EFRS is encouraging owners or agents to install a “No Smoking” sign or decal where it can be seen in plain sight.


What is considered an appropriate “No Smoking” sign or decal for a balcony deemed to be a non-smoking area?

The “No Smoking” sign or decal should be weather resistant and must be visible in plain sight. These decals can be “No Smoking” stickers, signs, or any marker that clearly defines the balcony as a non-smoking area. The signs or decals will serve as a reminder to residents and guests that smoking is not permitted. There is no size requirement, but the “No Smoking” sign or decal should be clearly visible.

What kind of ashtray is appropriate?
Although a standard ashtray is acceptable, Edmonton Fire Rescue Services is recommending a receptacle that is designed for the exterior of a building, enclosed, built of noncombustible material, and free standing or wall mounted.
What is considered to be an appropriate number of ashtrays?

Based on the size of balconies of multi-family buildings, one ashtray is considered to be acceptable. Just make sure the ashtray is safely emptied on a regular basis.

Who is responsible for purchasing the appropriate ashtrays and signs/decals?
It is the property owner or agent’s responsibility to maintain their properties according to the Alberta Fire Code. As such, this voluntary program will remain the owner and agent’s responsibility and they will purchase the ashtrays and signs/decals for their building(s).
Is it possible for some units to have ashtrays/smoking material receptacles and some to have “No Smoking” signs/decals?

Yes, it is up to the property owner or agent to deem each balcony of the building as either a smoking area or a non-smoking area. As such, if the owner or agent agrees to participate in this program, each individual unit will be provided either a “No Smoking” decal or an ashtray/smoking material receptacle.

How do I maintain my smoking material receptacle?

It is the resident's responsibility to maintain their ashtray/smoking material receptacle. Depending on the regularity of smoking, empty your ashtray/smoking material receptacle before it is full. Ensure that you soak all smoking material in water before it is disposed in order to prevent smoldering. After emptying your ashtray/receptacle, wipe the inside clean to ensure all smoking material has been removed. Report any damaged ashtrays or “No Smoking” signs/decals to your property owner or agent immediately.

What if I see someone breaking this rule?

It is the building owner or agent’s responsibility to manage this activity. If you are aware of smoking occurring in a non-smoking area or if you see smoking materials being disposed of improperly, you are strongly encouraged to notify the building manager to intercede.

For More Information

Fire Prevention Office
10465 - 105 Street NW
Edmonton, AB T5H 0P5

Hours: Monday to Friday, 8am to 4:30pm (Closed on weekends and statutory holidays)


780-496-3628 (voicemail only)


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