Behaviour in case of fire – 1. Fire in the own flat in an apartment building


What should I do if there is a fire in my apartment in an apartment building?


In a nutshell – and under “read more” with helpful background information for all those who want to find out more.


Try to stay calm!

Stay calm – you are excited because a fire is not a habitual situation. Knowing what steps to take and regularly practicing these steps will not reduce the danger and risk for you, but you can at least partly defuse the dangerous situation and possibly even bring it under control by your reactions


Is it possible to extinguish the fire with simple means? (e.g. put the lid on the burning pot, use an existing small extinguisher, container with water) Read more...

Attempt to extinguish – Every fire starts small. The earlier you discover a fire, the greater the chance that you can extinguish it. There are some simple methods of extinguishing incipient fires. It is important that you react quickly and decisively.


a) Burning fat in a pan or pot–> Important: No water on fat fires! As fat burns very hot, water evaporates immediately in this case – and takes the burning fat with it. Instead of this, stifle the fire, e.g. by putting a lid on it.


b) Extinguishing spray cans are intuitively easy to use – just like spray cans. This may be sufficient for a developing fire. Against smaller fires, such as those caused by an overturned candle, you can even achieve good results with the finely atomized water from a flower sprayer, such as the one used for moistening leaves, if it is quickly at hand.


c) The most common types of fire extinguishers are ABC powder, water or foam extinguishers. For use in an emergency, however, you should first familiarise yourself with the application. Not all fire extinguishers work with the same technology – how they work is stated on the device as instructions for use.


When do you still have a chance to extinguish a fire with simple means?

A rule of thumb is: If you can still see the source of the fire, i.e. the cause of the fire, and apply extinguishing agent with your arm stretched out. With fire extinguishers, successful fire fighting is in principle possible longer and even later in the course of the fire than with extinguishing spray. But when a fire has developed beyond the initial fire phase, its spread is very rapid. In case of doubt, and especially if the smoke spreads quickly, you should definitely prefer to withdraw fire fighting. Do not play the hero! Your safety comes first



There is an interesting video about this: (Sorry, this video is in German language)


Is it possible to close the door to the burning room? Read more...

Every door is initially a barrier to flames and also smoke. Therefore, it is always useful if a possible escape route is separated from the fire room by a door.

There are highly effective fire doors that can withstand a fire for at least 30 minutes. But even simple doors without fire protection quality prevent a further spread of fire for at least 10 minutes – if they are closed. When you have closed the door inside the apartment, valuable time is gained for informing any other people present in the apartment and for escaping together. Also, the smoke cannot spread any further and put you at risk.


Consider whether there are other people in the apartment. If so, do these people know about the fire and are they able to leave the apartment independently? Read more...

Are there other people in the apartment and in the house? If there are children or other adults in the apartment besides yourself who have not yet noticed the fire, your quick and decisive reaction is vital for survival. After the initial fire phase, during which you may still be able to intervene, fires usually develop very quickly. It is therefore important that everyone who is still inside the apartment is informed as soon as possible and is able to get to safety together with you. Those who are dependent on your help (for example children, sick or infirm people) have priority. Remember that otherwise independent and reasonable people may become confused or panicky in the event of a fire. Get all persons you can reach and move without endangering themselves out of the building.


Is the escape route to the apartment exit available? Read more...

Your further action depends on whether your escape route to the apartment exit is free of fire and fire smoke.

If not, go to the room that is furthest away from the source of the fire, close the door behind you and alert the fire brigade.


Be sure to point out that you are locked in. If this room has a window that can be reached with a ladder, you will be brought out this way. This may take some time – modern doors can withstand a fire for a long time, so you can wait. It is important that you make yourself noticed at the window by shouting. The fire brigade will send a fireman to keep in contact with you.


Please be as specific as possible about your situation: Is the exit blocked by the fire? Is the apartment door closed? Is smoke penetrating? Are there other people in the room with you or in other rooms in the apartment?


If your evacuation via ladders is not possible, the fire brigade will come to your rescue by a quick and direct extinguishing attack via the stairs. For this purpose, they can use an escape hood, for example, which protects you for a short time from the dangers of fire smoke. However, an emergency service will always accompany you.


If the fire brigade cannot get to you soon enough and the situation in the room becomes threatening, you can still be rescued by a jumping pad. (The jumping sheets stretched out by many people, which were known from children’s books, do not exist anymore). Jumping pads can catch a jump from the 5th floor of an apartment building.


Attention: Never jump before you are asked to! Jump cushions are inflated and must first unfold. Sit on the windowsill, push yourself away from the window, pull your legs up and make a “bomb” like in a swimming pool!


Do you have your mobile phone and apartment keys within easy reach? Read more...

A mobile phone is an important tool in an emergency.

With a mobile phone you can also make an emergency call when the SIM card has expired – but the battery must be charged. If there is a fire in your home, it is of course important to alert the fire brigade as soon as possible.

But an emergency call takes a while: The control center has to get information about the exact location, the situation etc. and will ask questions. There is no time for that in a room where there is a fire. You should therefore first get to safety before making the emergency call. It is of little use if you have alerted the fire brigade and cannot leave your home because of the time spent on it.


When leaving the apartment, you should always take your key with you to the apartment entrance. When the fire brigade arrives, you can give the firemen your apartment key and other information about the situation. With the key, the firefighters can get into their flat faster and they don’t have to gain access with breaking tools and lose valuable time.


To ensure that you can quickly find your keys and mobile phone in an emergency, they should always be in the same place and ready to hand. If you lock your door at night, leave the key in the lock if the door can still be unlocked from the outside. Alternatively, you can hang or place the key in a clearly visible position on a key board in the immediate vicinity of the door.


Did you close the door to the staircase when you left the apartment? Read more...

If you leave your apartment through the apartment entrance door, it is important that you close the door behind you. Closing the apartment door in the event of a fire in an apartment building is particularly important. When the door is closed, a small amount of smoke can still enter the stairwell, but not as much as when the door is fully open.

Even if the apartment entrance door is not a fire door with a defined fire resistance, it can withstand a fire for a certain period of time and can thus enable not only you but also the other residents of the building to escape via the staircase.

If you leave your burning apartment and have the key with you, it is not only helpful for you if you want to go back after the fire is extinguished, but also very helpful for the fire brigade. If the fire brigade arrives and you expect them to come with the apartment key and also other information, the firefighters can get to the source of the fire faster than if they have to use crushing tools to gain access to the scene of the fire first.


Have you called the fire brigade from a safe area via the telephone number 112? Read more...

The most important thing is to get all the inhabitants of the fire flat to safety. If everyone is safe – or unavailable – and no one else has been able to make an emergency call, then the next step is to do so as quickly as possible.


When making the emergency call, remember that the person on duty at the emergency call centre is accustomed to such a conversational situation, but for yourself the situation is new, you are excited and possibly confused. In this situation, it is important to nevertheless transmit all information that is important for the fire brigade and rescue services.

Therefore, try to answer the questions asked in an understandable and rapid manner. The most important thing is to determine the exact location of the emergency, i.e. town, street, house number, district, floor if applicable, and any special features or peculiarities of the access route.


Give clear and quick answers to the following questions:

– Where is the emergency location?

– What has happened?

– Who is calling?


Provide concise information and describe the situation as precisely as possible. Are there injured and how many? Are people in acute danger? Also wait for further questions and instructions and do not hang up until the person in the control centre has finished the conversation.


Did you warn the neighbours?

If you live in an apartment building, you should at least warn the neighbours on the same floor. Apartments are normally separated in terms of fire protection in such a way that under normal circumstances no fire spread to the neighbouring apartment is to be expected before the fire brigade arrives. However, it is advisable to warn neighbours on the same floor if it is possible without danger.


Non-dangerous means that there is no strong smoke development in the staircase and that it can still be used without danger. However, you should not run up the stairs and cause all persons to leave the house. Apartment buildings are equipped with fire-resistant ceilings that last at least until the fire brigade arrives. The fire brigade can then decide whether or not it is necessary to evacuate the entire building


Can you give the fire brigade important information, for example, whether and where there are still people in the building? Read more...

The arriving firefighters are led by a fire chief who is trained to request information from the reporting persons about the incident as quickly as possible. This may seem brusque and not particularly sensitive – but that’s not what the situation is about, it’s about the quick defense against acute danger.


Identify yourself as an information carrier and respond in the same way as you have already spoken to the fire brigade on the telephone. The questions will mainly refer to the exact location of the fire, because it is not always clear from the outside:

– On which floor is there a fire and in which apartment?

– Pay attention to the way the floors are counted: ground floor, 1st floor, 2nd floor etc.

– Are there still people in the apartment?

– Are there any special dangers (gas bottles, animals, ammunition or similar).

– Is the door closed? Do you have a key?

– Give your key to the officer in charge.


After the initial information, be ready to answer questions. If you have followed all the points to the best of your knowledge and ability, you have done everything you could for yourself and your environment. This will enable the fire brigade to work quickly and effectively and the damage can be limited.