Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms to detect a fire are essential in every home. Working smoke alarms save lives, allowing you more time to escape.

Safety Tips

Where to Install

Smoke alarms should be installed in:

  • All sleeping rooms.
  • Outside of each separate sleeping area, in the immediate vicinity of the sleeping rooms (hallway, but not by the bathroom).
  • On each level of the dwelling unit, including basements.

Proper Placement:

  • If mounted on the ceiling, it must be more than 4 inches from the wall.
  • It cannot be closer than 4 inches, or more than 12 inches from the ceiling if mounted on the wall.
  • Smoke alarms should not be installed within 36 inches of windows, exterior doors, or ducts where drafts might interfere with their operation.
  • Smoke alarms should not be painted or have stickers or other decorations present.
  • Smoke detectors should not be installed within 10 feet of a cooking appliance.
  • Smoke detectors should not be installed within 3 feet of ceiling fans, air ducts, exterior doors, or windows.

Maintenance Reminders

  • Test smoke alarms each month to ensure it is working and familiarize household members with the sound.
  • Dust or vacuum smoke alarms frequently to eliminate dust, debris, and insects that may cause false alarms.
  • If your smoke alarms have a nine-volt battery, replace the battery each year.
  • Replace smoke alarm units every ten years or sooner if they do not respond properly.

Close Before You Doze

A closed door can slow the spread of fire, reduce toxic smoke levels, improve oxygen levels, and decrease temperatures dramatically. That could make a life-saving difference in your home.

There are many factors causing homes to burn quicker than ever before, which place the occupants and fire fighters at risk. Consider installing an automatic fire sprinkler system when building or remodeling an existing home.

NFPA 72®
National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code®

NFPA 72 provides the latest safety provisions to meet society’s changing fire detection, signaling, and emergency communications demands. In addition to the core focus on fire alarm systems, the Code includes requirements for mass notification systems used for weather emergencies; terrorist events; biological, chemical, and nuclear emergencies; and other threats.

Types of Smoke Alarms

There are different types of smoke alarms to fit your family’s needs. Ensure everyone in your home understands and reacts to the signal (light, vibration, or sound) best for their situation.

Always choose equipment that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory. All smoke alarms should be tested at least monthly. Maintain and replace devices according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Ionization Sensing

Detects invisible fire particles from flaming combustion. Ionization-type alarms are more responsive to flaming fires. Smoke disrupts ions in the detector causing the alarm to sound.

Photoelectric Sensing

Effectively detects smoke particles commonly produced by smoldering fires. Photoelectric smoke alarms are more sensitive to smoldering fires. Smoke reflects light onto a light sensor activating the alarm to sound.

Devices for the Hearing and Visually Impaired

There are smoke alarms equipped with American with Disabilities Act-compliant strobe lights intended to alert a person while awake.

Vibration notification appliances, such as pillow or bed shakers, are specifically designed to wake a sleeping person. These alert devices are activated by the sound of a traditional smoke alarm and sends vibrations to the mattress.

Power Sources

10-Year Lithium Battery

  • The battery is sealed-in and non-replaceable.
  • Alarm automatically activates when attached to the mounting bracket.
  • Replace the entire unit after 10 years.
  • Completely recyclable as an electronic device.

9-Volt Battery (not hard-wired)

  • Replace the battery every year.
  • Use fresh alkaline batteries; not the rechargeable ones.
  • Replace the entire unit after 10 years.


  • A licensed electrician wires power throughout the home where smoke detectors are placed.
  • These smoke alarms require a back-up battery (usually 9-volt) in case the home loses power.
  • Replace the battery every year.
  • Many hard-wired systems will be connected to each other. If one smoke detector activates, all will activate.

If you have doubts about fighting a fire... Just get out!

Never risk your life to save property! Remember to close the door behind you to help contain the fire. Call 9-1-1 from outside the building.