July 24, 2013

New State Requirements for Home Smoke Alarms; Residents Urged to Update Now

Maryland is the most recent state to require that homeowners replace battery-only operated smoke alarms with units powered by sealed-in, long-life batteries.

The updated law also requires that residential battery-operated smoke alarms be equipped with a “hush-button” feature that temporarily silences the alarm if activated by a non-emergency condition.

The law provides that each new residential unit constructed after July 1, 2013 must contain at least one smoke alarm in each sleeping room, in the hallway or common area outside of sleeping rooms, and in the hallway or common area on each level, including basements but excluding specified unoccupied spaces such as attics.

Fire Chief Steve Lohr said, “Smoke alarms are one of the most important safety features in your home, and while residents will have until January 1, 2018 to comply with the new law, we’re urging them to upgrade their alarms now.”

Get more details.


13 comments:

  1. We live in an increasingly intrusive nanny state. I'm good at replacing the batteries in my current detectors and don't need to be forced to buy ones I cannot service. I even have a CO detector despite not having gas or oil flames in my house, just to be extra safe.

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  2. Surprisingly, they are not much more expensive than the old-fashioned kind which are recommended to be replaced every 10 years.

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  3. I was just shopping for replacement smoke alarms; the new models are about five times the price of the simple older style. I really couldn't afford to adopt the more modern style...partly because my property taxes have nearly doubled since 2000, even as I earn less.

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  4. There's a shock! Wonder if anyone will raise a hue and cry about low-incomers not being able to afford the new detectors?

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  5. Soon they will be "creating jobs" by requiring annual inspections of our homes. Why do these people get elected? Doesn't anyone in this state believe in personal responsibility? If buying new batteries was too difficult, how do they think that demanding homeowners go to greater expense will improve the situation?

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  6. Does this require any action for existing houses? I cannot tell from this article.

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    1. It depends on when your residence was constructed and what type of smoke alarms -- hard-wired or battery-operated -- were installed in your home.

      Under Maryland’s updated law, homeowners need to replace any 9v battery-operated smoke alarms with sealed, tamper-resistant alarms which incorporate a hush/silence feature and use long-life batteries. This needs to be done by January 1, 2018.

      If you go to the "Get more details" link in the original blog piece, you’ll see a series of FAQs that should further answer your question and give you more details about what’s required for homes of various ages.

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  7. Probably a good idea, however, it means the sale of a great many alarms and there should be a way for the county to acquire them or make them available at a low price.

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    1. Montgomery County Fire and Rescue regularly applies for federal grants and special projects to secure funding for smoke alarms that support the department’s Safety in Our Neighborhood Door-to-Door fire safety program. County residents who are senior citizens, live on low income, have special needs or are experiencing hardship can call 311 to request that the fire department install a smoke alarm in their home. The department also provides specialized smoke alarms for the hearing impaired and was recently awarded a grant to provide 10-year smoke alarms to qualifying residents.


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  8. I'm curious: Are there any statistics to show how many lives were potentially saved by properly functioning smoke alarms in private homes? I've seen occasional reports of fires in homes that either had no smoke alarm or the battery was removed, but nothing that directly links having such alarms to lives saved.

    Maybe it's like what they say about overpowered cars: those who drive them have relatively more accidents; those who drive standard cars have proportionately fewer, all other things being equal. So maybe people who install and maintain smoke detectors are basically more careful about their habits than people who ignore them. What are the statistics? Do we know?

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  9. According to estimates by the National Fire Protection Association and the U.S. Fire Administration, U.S. home usage of smoke alarms rose from less than 10% in 1975 to at least 95% in 2000, while the number of home fire deaths was cut nearly in half. Thus, the home smoke alarm is credited as the greatest success story in fire safety in the last part of the 20th century, because it alone represented a highly effective fire safety technology that went from only token usage to nearly universal usage in a remarkably short time.

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  10. How would this effect an older home with hardwired smoke detectors which are part of a security system?

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  11. The new portion of the law addresses battery-only operated smoke alarms, which would not affect your system. However, residents of older homes are reminded that there are two other portions of the law that do apply to them.

    First is the replacement of smoke alarms when they are 10 years old (from the date of manufacture). This replacement requirement is already in the adopted State Fire Code, which was the first to specify that no “household” smoke alarm (battery or AC) shall be kept in service for any longer than 10 years from its date of manufacture. The date of manufacture, while sometimes hard to locate, should be printed on the back of the smoke alarm. If you don’t know when your alarm was either installed originally or replaced, check with your security company. If no manufacture date can be located, it is time to replace the smoke alarm.

    Next are the requirements for where the smoke alarms should be located and these vary, depending on when the home was constructed. While the law for existing homes only requires a smoke alarm outside each sleeping area and one on each level of the home, fire officials recommend that existing homes be equipped with at least the same number of smoke alarms required in new homes which includes smoke alarms present inside all sleeping rooms.

    Go to www.mcfrs.org/mcsafe,then Safety Resources, and under Related Montgomery County Law, go to Residential Smoke Alarm Requirements for more details about the requirements for residences of varying ages.

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