Smoke Alarm Locations
Having a sufficient number of smoke alarms located in the proper areas of the home is critical to ensuring that occupants are immediately alerted in the event of a fire.
Individual counties, cities, or authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) may have their own requirements for smoke-alarm placement, so homeowners can check with their local building codes if they need specific instructions. The following guidelines, however, can be helpful:
Smoke alarms should be installed in the following locations:
Smoke alarms should not be installed in the following locations:
Smoke Alarm Types
Ionization and photoelectric are the two main designs of smoke detectors. Both types must pass the same tests to be certified to the voluntary standard for smoke alarms, but they perform differently in different types of fires. Detectors may be equipped with one or both types of sensors -- known as dual-sensor smoke alarms -- and possibly a heat detector, as well. These sensors are described as follows:
Unites States Fire Administration (USFA), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), 5 the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Underwriters laboratory (UL), the Home Safety Council, the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), the International Association of State Fire Marshals (IASFM), and the Consumers Union (publisher of Consumer Reports) recommend that every residence and place where people sleep be equipped with: Both ionization AND photoelectric smoke alarms, OR Dual sensor smoke alarms, which contain both ionization and photoelectric smoke sensors
Power and Interconnection
Power for the smoke alarms may be hard-wired directly into the building’s electrical system, or it may come from just a battery. Hard-wired smoke detectors are more reliable because the power source cannot be removed or drained, although they will not function in a power outage. Battery-operated units often fail because the battery can be easily removed, dislodged or drained, although these units can be installed almost anywhere. Older buildings might be restricted to battery-powered designs, while newer homes generally offer more options for power sources. If possible, homeowners should install smoke alarms that are hard-wired with a battery backup, especially during a renovation or remodeling project.
Smoke alarms may also be interconnected so that if one becomes triggered, they all sound in unison. Interconnected smoke alarms are typically connected with a wire, but new technology allows them to be interconnected wirelessly. The National Fire Protection Agency requires that smoke alarms be AFCI-protected.
Smoke Alarm Testing and Replacement
Test smoke alarms monthly, and replace their batteries at least twice per year. Change the batteries when you change your clocks for Daylight Saving Time. If you are moving into a new home, we recommend that you replace all of the smoke alarm batteries and test each of the smoke detectors. Most models emit a chirping noise when the batteries are low to alert the homeowner that they need replacement.