What is a 10 Minute Fire Response Map and What Does it Mean for Me?

Written by:Sterling Homes,

January 21, 2021

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Whether you’re thinking about buying a new-to-you home or building a brand-new home, it’s a good idea to think about where your new home would fall on the 10-minute fire response map.

Never heard of this? You’re not alone. The 10-minute fire response map is the rough area in which the firefighters could reach your home within 10 minutes of getting the call that there’s a fire. Those who live in areas where it would take the fire department more than 10 minutes to reach the home more than 10 percent of the time are considered to be outside of the 10-minute response map.

It sounds a little dangerous at first, but there’s no need to worry. Those who live outside the zone can take steps to minimize potential damage.

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Additional Building Requirements Outside the Zone

Those who live outside the zone have to meet additional building codes that make their homes safer. The biggest concern with fires in homes that might take longer than 10 minutes for the fire department to reach is that the fire could spread from house to house throughout the neighbourhood. So the additional building requirements are intended to protect your home from catching fire if your neighbour’s home catches fire.

A neighbouring home is most likely to catch fire due to the windows, so you’ll find most requirements around this area. For instance, in some areas, you may not be allowed to have windows on the side of your home at all. 

In communities that do allow windows, they’ll need to be metal-clad casement windows (the kind that open by tilting or by pushing out) rather than sliding windows. Homes outside the 10-minute fire response zone are also required to include sprinkler systems to keep the fire under control and allow time to evacuate while the fire service responds.

It gets confusing, but a good builder will explain all of your options and how they fit the guidelines.

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Insurance Concerns

In general, any safety features that your home has will mean a decrease in your homeowners’ insurance cost. If your home is within the 10-minute fire response map, you could get a discount. If it’s outside of the zone and has the above-mentioned safety features, that could also mean a discount. Having both could mean an even bigger discount.

The savings you get from these things probably isn’t enough to be a make or break decision, but make sure to talk to your insurance agent about these features so that you’re getting the best price.

Know Your Zone

Now that we’ve explained how living in or outside of the 10-minute fire response map can affect you, it’s time to find out where your home – or your future home – lies. The Canadian Homebuilders’ Association regularly provides updated copies of the 10-minute fire response map. You can easily look at that map to see where your home falls.

Additionally, if you plan to build your home, the home builder should be able to tell you whether the locations you’re considering are within the zone or outside of the zone. If it’s important to you, make sure to mention this upfront.

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The Benefits of Being Outside the Zone

It would seem that being inside the 10-minute response zone is extremely important, but don’t worry if the location of your home falls just outside of these requirements. 

In fact, there are a few benefits to living outside of the zone. 

Because homes built just outside the zone are required to have extra safety features built in, you won’t need to worry about being less secure in the event of a fire. For example, including a sprinkler system not only reduces the risk of death in a home fire by 82% when coupled with smoke alarms, it also reduces property damage by up to 90%! On top of this, because a sprinkler only uses about 10% of the water used by a firehose, there’s less chance of water damage to your property if the fire is put out by a sprinkler. 

What’s more, as the city expands and new fire services are built, the zone will expand alongside it. Eventually you could find yourself inside the 10-minute response zone, with the added benefit of the extra features that came with the home. 

Not only does this mean added safety and peace of mind, it might even add to your home’s value. You may also be eligible for insurance discounts if a new fire station is built near your home.

You want your home to be as safe as possible. Building a new home significantly reduces the risk of a house fire simply because of the updated electrical system and newer materials. But it’s also important to take safety precautions based on your distance from the nearest fire department. If you have any questions about what this means for you and the home you want to build for your family, be sure to ask.

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