Regulations revised for smoke alarms when selling older homes


No expired alarms; replacement alarms must have 10-year batteries

 Submitted by Jennifer Mieth, Public Information Officer, Department of Fire Services

Region –Starting Thursday, Dec. 1, older one- and two-family homes cannot be sold with expired or out-of-date smoke alarms. The Board of Fire Prevention Regulations has revised the State Fire Code to require that one- and two-family homes built before 1975 must have working smoke alarms that have not expired. Working smoke alarms installed prior to that date (that met previous requirements) can continue to be used until they are 10 years old or have exceeded the manufacturer’s recommended life, whichever occurs first.

“Most people know they should have working smoke alarms. The one thing many people don’t realize is that smoke alarms need to be replaced about every 10 years,” State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said in a press release.  “Major manufacturers of smoke alarms indicate they have a service life of about 10 years and recommend replacement after that because the sensing technology deteriorates over time. “

    New requirements when replacing alarms

When replacing expired alarms, the regulations require the new alarms be photoelectric with a hush button feature to silence nuisance alarms. Intensifying smoke will override the hush feature. Alarms can be photoelectric alone, or in combination with ionization technology. They may also provide smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detection in the same device. The biggest change is that replacement battery powered alarms will have to have a 10-year, sealed, non-replaceable, non-rechargeable battery. These batteries won’t ever have to be changed for the life of the smoke alarm. The entire unit, the smoke alarm and the battery, will need to be replaced at the end of 10 years, and the alarm will give you an end-of-life warning.

    Every home should have working smoke and CO alarms

“The goal is to have working smoke and CO alarms when you really need them. Alarms that are easier to keep in good working order, should reduce the reasons people disable them,” said Ostroskey.

    How to find out how old smoke or CO alarms are:

Check the manufacture date stamped on the back of the alarm to see how old it is. If it doesn’t have one, then it is already more than 10 years old and needs to be replaced.

    No working smoke alarms in 55 percent of last winter’s deaths

“Last winter too many people died in homes without working smoke alarms,” said Ostroskey. “No one thinks fire will happen to them, but a majority of fire deaths occur in homes without working alarms.”

Last winter (December 2015 – March 2016), there were 31 fire deaths in homes and in more than 1/2, 55 percent, there were no working smoke alarms. One-third of those who died in fires were seniors – people over 65.