Frequently Asked Questions about Required Smoke Detectors

Does the new requirement apply to existing houses, condos and apartments?
Yes.

When does the new requirement take effect?
Feb. 18, 2010.

Is there a grace period for compliance?
No. The City delayed the effective date of this requirement for 18 months to allow property owners time to comply.

What exactly is the new requirement?
Section 10-197 (l)(5) of the City Housing Code states: “Effective 18 months from adoption, each room designated for sleeping purposes, or used for sleeping more than occasionally, or listed as a bedroom on a set of plans and each story, excluding crawl space and attic space, shall be required to contain a smoke detector located on the ceiling and no closer than 12 inches to the intersection of the wall and the ceiling.”

When was it passed?
The City Council adopted this amendment to the Housing Code on Aug. 18, 2008.

Why did the council adopt this requirement?
To provide maximum early warning to those that might be asleep or in bedrooms with the door closed.

What about attics and basements?
Attics and basements do not have to have a smoke alarm if they are not used as a living space. A finished attic or basement that is used as a playroom, rec room, home office etc. must have a smoke alarm.

Are battery-powered smoke alarms acceptable?
Yes.

Do the smoke alarms have to be connected so that when one goes off, they all go off?
No.

Where do I get smoke alarms?
Home improvement and hardware stores carry a variety of smoke alarms starting at under $10.

Is financial assistance available?
No.

I live in an apartment. Who is responsible for compliance?
The property owner is responsible for complying with the new requirement.

I rent/lease my home? Who is responsible?
The property owner remains responsible for providing an operable smoke detector.

Is this more stringent than the state building code?
No. The state building code, which applies to all new construction, requires smoke detectors in every bedroom and on every floor, and requires that smoke detectors be wired into the building’s electrical system and be connected to each other.

How will it be enforced?
For new construction, compliance with the smoke detector requirement will be enforced as part of the permitting and inspections process. For existing dwellings, the city's neighborhood services department inspectors will enforce the smoke detector provision of the Minimal Housing Code as part of their regular inspection process. All homeowners and landlords are urged to be sure that bedrooms and floors have smoke detectors for the personal safety of all residents.

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