The theme for our presentation at this year’s fair will be about replacing old smoke alarms. The idea for this was spurred by the results of this past spring’s door to door survey and inspections. The area we visited this year was the Tweed / MacDougall subdivision, an area that was last done five years ago. Additionally this area was also the scene of a fairly substantial house fire that had occurred less than twelve months prior to the door to door visits so we expected to see very good results. Despite the fact that we did not find any homes without any smoke alarms, we did notice that many homes still had old smoke alarms installed. Often the original ones installed when the home was built, well over twenty years ago. Even though when tested the old smoke alarms sound an alarm, it is disputable if the alarm’s sensors are functioning up to the current standards required for these devices. Unfortunately we are not equipped to test the sensitivity of alarms, however all manufacturers of smoke alarms advise that they be replaced after ten years because it is known that the reliability of the device cannot be guaranteed after this point. The fire code which is the act that mandates smoke alarms in homes does not recognize this fact, so as long as the alarm sounds when tested the device meets the requirements of the act. This loop hole in the act results in many homes that in the opinion of the fire service does not have adequate protection for the occupants. We often remind home owners that for the average home the expense of replacing your smoke alarms with the best and newest devices costs less than $20 per year, considering we pay around 50 times that amount to insure our homes and the contents it seems foolish to not pay $20 per year to better protect our families.
Smoke alarms are now coming with the date they were manufactured marked on the casing so that home owners can be certain they are replaced as recommended. Newer models also come with many excellent features, such as; interconnectivity between battery operated units, dual technology, combination smoke alarm / CO detectors, 10 year lithium batteries and safety lights. There is even a new low profile model that protrudes less than half an inch from the ceiling. The fire code requires all homes to have a working smoke alarm on each level of the home, why take a risk with your life and that of your family by relying on an old unit that may not be reliable.
Published in the Villager newspaper September 7, 2011
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