Living Infomation

Comprehensive Living Guide for Foreign Residents in Japan

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Fire

In Tokyo, about 4,800 fires have been reported in the last few years. Prepare yourself by learning how to prevent a fire and how to take appropriate action should one actually occur.

Calling 119
When you witness a fire, call out in a loud voice and let the neighbors know that there is a fire. Next, make an emergency call to 119, regardless of the size of the fire. Remember that 119 is the number to call in case of fire in Japan.
  • Once you get through to the 119 operator, report the following:
    ・that there is a fire (kaji)
    ・location (address) of the fire
    ・any nearby landmarks if you don't know the exact address of the site (you may also use a public payphone to let the operator know where you are calling from)
    ・what is on fire
  • You may call 119 from your mobile phone.
  • If you hear the sirens of the fire trucks, stand outside so that you can help guide them to the fire.
Consult your local ward/city/town office or fire station if your property was damaged by the fire.

Safe evacuation

You should take the following steps to safely evacuate if you witness a fire:

  • If you detect fire, immediately inform the neighbors about it.
  • Try to put the fire out with an extinguisher or other available tools.
  • If the fire has reached the ceiling, immediately evacuate the premises since it is very dangerous.
  • When you evacuate, protect your nose and mouth from inhaling smoke with a moist handkerchief or towel and proceed by keeping yourself as low as possible.
  • Evacuate to the lower floors since both fire and smoke move fast towards the higher floors.
  • When you evacuate, do not use elevators - always take a staircase.
  • Make a 119 phone call after you have evacuated the premises and secured your own safety.
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Fire prevention

Many fires have been caused by the negligent handling of cigarettes. If you are a smoker, keep the following in mind to prevent a cigarette fire:

  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Do not litter with cigarette butts.
  • Do not smoke while walking on a street
    (You may also be fined in some wards of Tokyo.)
  • Always make sure you have completely put out cigarettes.
  • Put out cigarettes completely by dipping them in water.

Additionally, stoves, heaters, and electrical cords cause many fires. Make a habit of the following to prevent a fire:

  • Never leave cookers unattended when you cook.
  • Do not place any objects near burners or heating stoves.
  • When going to sleep or leaving the house, make sure to turn off heaters.
  • Regularly clean so that dust does not accumulate inside electrical outlets.
  • Make sure to not break electrical cords, or let them get crushed beneath furniture.
  • Unplug electric appliances when you are away from home for a long time.
It is important that you prepare an extinguisher in case of fire. Participate in fire drills in your community and brush up your prevention skills with an extinguisher.

Installing a residential fire alarm

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has revised the fire prevention regulations and requires all existing residential buildings in Tokyo to have fire alarms installed as of April 1, 2010. The alarm installation has already been mandatory for newly built or remodeled residences since October 1, 2004. Immediate installation of the alarm is urged for residences without one, including apartment buildings. Installation standards may vary depending on the fire regulations of the area you live in. Call your local fire station to learn more about the requirement.

Fire extinguishers
  • Portable fire extinguishers are available in different sizes, from large types to small, light ones for residential use. It is important to know how to handle the extinguisher properly so that you can use it efficiently in a real situation.
  • The extinguishers should be regularly inspected and placed where anyone can see and use them when necessary. When choosing a location for an extinguisher, avoid humid and/or sunny places and make sure it stands securely.
  • Used/old extinguishers cannot be collected by your local authority as regular trash. If you have a malfunctioning or unwanted extinguisher, contact the store where you bought it or its manufacturer for inspection or disposal.
  • You may participate in a local fire drill or at a class provided by the Tokyo Fire Department's Bosaikan (disaster prevention center) to experience the actual use of the extinguisher.
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