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Baltimore County Police and Fire News

Official News Blog of Baltimore County police, fire, homeland security and emergency management. Call 911 to report crimes in progress and emergencies.
Date: Jan 4, 2018

BCoFD has heard from many residents with questions about Maryland's new smoke alarm law, which was signed in 2013 but includes some requirements that just took effect on January 1, 2018. This fact sheet is designed to clarify this regulation and what it means for you.

What the law requires now

  • Replacement of battery-only smoke alarms with new, 10-year smoke alarms with sealed batteries and a "hush" feature (to silence the alarm temporarily during cooking).
  • Replacement of hardwired devices more than 10 years old. Hardwired devices newer than 10 years still are acceptable.
  • Hard-wired devices must be replaced with hard-wired devices. You cannot replace a hard-wired alarm with a battery-only alarm.

What the law requires in the future

  • The law requires replacement of ALL smoke alarms -- hard-wired and battery-only -- when they are 10 years old. That means 10 years from the date of manufacture printed on on the back of the alarm. If you can't find a date, your smoke alarm needs to be replaced.
  • Smoke alarms lose their operational sensitivity after 10 years.
  • Hard-wired devices must be replaced with hard-wired devices.

What brand of alarm should I buy?

  • BCoFD does not endorse one manufacturer over another.
  • Smoke alarms are available at most home supply and "big box" retail stores and at many online retailers.
  • Alarms should comply with Underwriters Laboratory (UL) 217, "Standard for Safety for Single and Multiple Station Smoke Alarm."

What about rental properties?

  • The new law applies to rental properties.
  • However, the new requirements do not impact individuals in the County’s rental registration program because the County’s rental registration provisions do not permit battery-operated smoke detector units and require hard-wired smoke detectors.


  • The local fire code does not grant right of entry into privately-owned single- and multi-family dwellings.

Purpose of the law

  • The law was designed to achieve the most reliable smoke alarm coverage possible in older dwellings without requiring homeowners to run new wiring.
  • The law's overall purpose is reduction of fire deaths and injuries.
  • Studies of residential fire fatalities show that more than half of smoke alarms in these incidents failed to sound because the 9-volt battery had been removed. The sealed battery requirement eliminates that problem.

Placement of smoke alarms   Smoke alarm location

The Baltimore County Police Department once again has earned law enforcement’s highest grades for excellence in the delivery of public safety services.

The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA®) has recertified the Department for the tenth consecutive time. Essentially, accreditation by CALEA means that a police department meets a national body of standards developed by law enforcement professionals. BCoPD was first accredited in 1984; the Department voluntarily requests reassessment every three years.

"Through the integrity and service of the men and women of the Baltimore County Police Department, we have received the CALEA Accreditation with Excellence Award. This Department continues to be a national model for modern law enforcement within the ever-changing environment of today's world," said Chief Terrence B. Sheridan. "This achievement would not be possible without the perseverance of our officers and civilian staff members."

International Gold Standard for Public Safety Agencies

The accreditation follows a year-long effort by BCoPD’s Accreditation Team, responsible for the arduous work involved with documenting the Department’s compliance with CALEA’s standards in policy and procedures, administration, operations, and support services. CALEA originally was developed in order to enhance the status of law enforcement as a profession. The organization seeks to improve public safety services by maintaining a body of standards developed by public safety practitioners and covering a wide range of up-to-date public safety initiatives; establishing and administering an accreditation process; and recognizing professional excellence.

Just after 9:00 p.m. on January 3, 2018, Baltimore County Police responded to a crash at Joppa Road and LaSalle Road, 21286. Crash investigators were able to determine that a 2001 Honda CRV was traveling eastbound on Joppa Road. The CRV struck the curb on Joppa Road and continued into a utility pole. The driver was the only person inside the car. She was transported to a local hospital by Baltimore County Fire Department personnel, but was later pronounced deceased. The driver has been identified as Johnnette Leah Smith, 51, of 100-block of Pysell Road, 21541. Police continue to investigate the cause of the crash. 

Revised June 27, 2017