New Requirements for Smoke Alarms Sold in CA

Could replacing the battery in your smoke alarm become a thing of the past?

Under Senate Bill 745, every new smoke detector sold and installed in California must come with a 10-year battery that can’t be removed. In addition, all new smoke alarms must have a manual silencing feature and a designated place to write the installation date by Jan. 1, 2015. The new law does not apply to alarms that are hard-wired.

San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Fire Marshal Doug Perry demonstrated the new generation of smokes detectors during a Fire Prevention Week event Tuesday in Clairemont.

Perry said the problem isn’t necessarily that people don’t own smoke detectors; it’s that they take out the batteries.

“Most batteries are a yearlong, and the smoke detector starts to chirp. Instead of getting a new battery and replacing it, they remove the battery, and now we have a smoke alarm with no power that will not activate,” he said.

The new devices cannot be turned off and will still chirp when the battery gets low. However, they will be required to have a “hush” feature to stop the chirping.

“It’s human nature that stops these things from working, not technology, and the weak link was the battery,” Perry said.

The new models will run between $25 and $50, according to Gigi Lubin with First Alert, which manufactures smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and combination smoke-CO alarms. A basic, traditional smoke detector costs between $5 and $10, Lubin said.

If you can’t afford new smoke detectors, Perry recommends putting 10-year batteries in your current ones. The new law doesn’t require people to replace their current smoke detectors; rather, stores will only be permitted to sell new ones that meet the new requirements.

The fire department advises putting smoke alarms between your kitchen and living area, in each bedroom and in hallways.

First Alert donated 150 new smoke alarms to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. The fire department will be giving them away at Fire Station Open Houses this weekend. Visit the department’s Facebook page for hours and locations.

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