Smoke Alarm Information

Every year in the United States, nearly 3,000 people lose their lives in residential fires. Most of these fatalities are due to the inhalation of smoke and toxic gases. According to NFPA data, home — the place people feel safest from fire — is actually where they are at greatest risk, with three-quarters (75 percent) of all U.S. fire deaths occurring in homes. Where people used to have more than 10 minutes to escape a typical home fire from the time the smoke alarm sounds, today they may have as little as two minutes.


Smoke Alarm Location Guidelines


  • Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room and in the hallway outside each sleeping room.
  • Place at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home.
  • Locate the smoke alarm on the room’s flat ceiling or on the wall within 12” of the ceiling
  • Avoid placing alarms near the top of peaked ceilings or near air vents; these locations can reduce their effectiveness. 

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Smoke Alarm Maintenance


  • Replace your smoke alarm’s battery at least every year, unless its instruction manual states otherwise.  The beginning or end of daylight savings time is an ideal time.  Certain new models come pre-packaged with lithium batteries rated for ten years’ of life.
  • Press your alarm’s test button once a month to make sure it sounds properly.  Please know that this only tests the alarm’s ability to make noise — the test button does not test its ability to detect smoke. 
  • Replace your smoke alarm regularly, at the time specified in the instruction manual.  Smoke alarms contain reactive materials that degrade over time, which eventually makes them useless and thus requiring replacement.
  • If a smoke alarm is producing frequent nuisance alarms, do not disable it!  Instead, clean it according to the instruction manual, or consider using a different type of alarm (photoelectric) that will be less sensitive.
  • At the same time you replace your smoke alarm batteries, replace the batteries in your Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarm.

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The Burlington Fire Department has partnered with The American Red Cross, which allows us to install smoke alarms at no charge to homeowners who reside in Burlington. If you would like to schedule a convenient time for our personnel to install your new smoke alarm, please call the Burlington Fire Department at (319) 753-8396.