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Installing and Maintaining Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms are the single most important means of preventing home fire fatalities. They provide an early warning signal so you and your family can escape.

Only six percent of US homes do not have smoke alarms, but these homes account for more than half of all home fire deaths.

Smoke alarms are required in the sleeping areas of most residential occupancies. The Fire Code requires smoke alarms in a variety of other occupancies, including hotels and motels, family day care homes and day care centers.

The local Fire Marshal strongly recommends smoke alarms in multiple locations in every home.

Maryland Smoke Alarm Law

Residential smoke alarm laws involving the type of allowable battery-powered alarms changed in 2018. Detailed information about these changes is available on this web site.

Installation Tips

The Baltimore County Fire Department offers these tips for installing and maintaining smoke alarms:

  • Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home, including the basement. Do not put smoke alarms in the kitchen, bathroom or the garage because cooking, steam and exhaust fumes may set them off.
  • Install smoke alarms both inside and outside sleeping areas, since many dangerous fires occur late at night or early in the morning. If you sleep with your bedroom door closed, install an alarm inside the room.
  • Install smoke alarms on the ceiling or above eye level on the walls. Smoke and deadly gases rise, so installing them at the proper height will provide the earliest possible warning.
  • These devices are easy to install; usually a screwdriver is the only tool you'll need.

Most hardware and home supply stores carry smoke alarms.

For additional information, visit the National Fire Protection Association.

Revised February 24, 2020         


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