Smoke detectors, when properly selected and properly installed, serve as the single most important factor of whether a family will escape a home fire or not.
The West Chester Fire Department recommends that a working smoke detector be installed on every level of your home and at a minimum, one inside every sleeping area.
Maintaining smoke detectors
Smoke detectors should never be disabled and batteries should be replaced periodically. A simple rule is when it's time to change clocks; it's time to change the batteries.
Smoke detectors cannot last forever and must be replaced when they fail to respond to periodic tests, or no later than 10 years from the marked date of manufacture.
The West Chester Fire Department encourages every family to familiarize themselves with the dangers of smoke and fire. Families should have an exit plan from their home and every family member should know two ways out of the house. Children must be taught what to do if the smoke detector sounds.
Installing Smoke Detectors
- Choose smoke detectors that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory
- Install smoke detectors inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home (inlcuding the basement)
- On levels without bedrooms, install alarms in the living room, family room or den, or near the stairway to the upper level
- Smoke alarms installed in the basement should be installed on the ceiling at the bottom of the stairway leading to the next level
- Smoke alarms should be installed at least 10 feet from a cooking appliance to minimize false alarms when cooking
- Mount smoke alarms high on walls or ceilings (remember, smoke rises). Wall-mounted alarms should be installed not more than 12 inches away from the ceiling
- If ceilings are pitched, install the alarm within three feet of the peak but not in the apex of the peak
- Don't install smoke alarms near windows, doors or ducts where drafts might interfere with their operation
- Never paint smoke alarms as paint, stickers or other decorations could affect operation
- For the best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms so when one sounds they all sound. This can be achieved using hard-wiring or wireless technology
- When interconnected, it is important that all alarms are from the same manufacturer
Types of detectors
There are two main types of smoke detectors on the market, Ionization and Photoelectric. Each detector is designed to activate depending on the type of fire. Ionization detectors are designed to detect hot, flaming fires. Photoelectric detectors are designed to detect smoldering, smoky fires. A third type of smoke detector exists, known as a dual sensor smoke detector. These detectors combine both Ionization and Photoelectric technology.
Please contact the West Chester Fire Department if you have any questions on the type or location of smoke detectors in your home or for a free home safety inspection. Please call (513) 777-1133 to schedule an appointment.