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Smoke Alarms

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The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that 96-97 percent of U.S. homes have at least one smoke alarm. Based on these results, almost five million households still do not have any smoke alarms. Thousands of people still die each year in home fires where smoke alarms aren't present or properly maintained. Three out of five home fire deaths resulted from fires in properties without working smoke alarms. Not having smoke alarms in your house can double your chances of not surviving. The Longmont Fire Department cares about your safety. Every home should be protected with smoke alarms.

Check Your Smoke Alarm messageWe can help.

Longmont Fire Services works in partnership with the Longmont community to ensure that residents have working smoke alarms and batteries. Fire staff will assist the elderly and those that are disabled to change smoke alarm batteries and install smoke alarms. There is no charge for this service.

While firefighters have a limited supply of detectors and batteries for those that cannot afford them, we ask that you provide your own. Longmont Fire recommends using 10 year batteries and/or “smart” detectors that will send alerts to your phone if a new battery is needed or it needs maintenance. There are circumstances in which residents may need to contact an electrician or a handy man for installation as our firefighters are not permitted to do any electrical work.

To arrange for assistance for elderly or disabled please call (303)651-8501. For general information regarding the smoke alarm program, please call (303)651-8437.

Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives

Tragically, the grave importance of installing and maintaining smoke alarms has not yet been fully realized. Most people who die in home fires are not in the room where the fire starts; working smoke alarms alert people to fire and give them time to escape in a situation where minutes can mean the difference between life and death.

Having a smoke alarm cuts your chance of dying nearly in half if you have a home fire. By properly placing, regularly testing and maintaining your alarms, you can ensure that they are in fact working and will alert you if a fire breaks out. Make sure you buy only those alarms that bear the mark of an independent testing laboratory.

Fire protection in the home must start with smoke alarms. There are many other kinds of alarms which may be designed to detect such factors as high temperatures, rapid changes in temperature, and certain gases produced in fires. However, these detectors are NOT as effective as smoke alarms in giving the first warning when a fire breaks out. Fire codes do not require heat detectors in homes; however, they may be used for optional extra protection in areas like kitchens, attics, and garages, where smoke alarms are susceptible to nuisance alarms. Reliable heat detectors can be purchased for approximately $20. Consumers may also purchase 10-year lithium batteries for these devices.

Contrary to popular belief, the smell of smoke may not wake a sleeping person. Instead, the poisonous gases and smoke produced by a fire can numb the senses and put one into a deeper sleep.

Where Should Smoke Alarms Be Installed?

Fire codes require that smoke alarms be installed (installation video) in every bedroom or other area where people sleep. Smoke alarms should additionally be installed in the hall or area outside each bedroom. At least one smoke alarm should be located on each level of the home including the basement. Smoke alarms should be installed on the ceiling or high on the wall. Dead air spaces within 4" of a corner should be avoided. Locate smoke alarms away from heat ducts, ceiling fans and other drafty locations. Do not install smoke alarms in garages, kitchens or bathrooms (or right outside bathroom doors) where dust, steam or cooking fumes may cause nuisance alarms.

Answers to Commonly Asked Questions

  • How often do I test smoke alarm batteries? Once a week by using the test button. If the alarm fails the test try replacing the batteries. Be sure to use the exact battery recommended by the smoke alarm manufacturer. If the alarm still does not work, replace the entire unit. Never use an open flame to test your alarms. Once a month vacuum the outside of the smoke alarm with a soft brush or compressed air can. Dust and insects can cause false alarms. Do not paint your smoke alarms! Change your batteries twice a year! A good way to remember it is when you change your clock, change your batteries.
  • How long will my smoke alarm last? Smoke alarms have a life expectancy of ten years. If your alarms are over ten years old it is time to replace them. If your smoke alarms are wired into your home's electrical system the fire department recommends you hire a licensed electrician. View this smoke alarm installation video by KUSA Channel 9 in Denver.
  • What does chirping mean? Chirping means that you have a low battery. Change the battery. Take a look at this video on how to change your batteries.
  • I have a newer home; are its smoke alarms different? In newer homes, smoke alarms often are hard wired together. That means that when one goes off, they all go off. The detector causing the problem will have a red light while the others on the property will have green lights.
  • Something is chirping but it isn't my smoke alarm. What else could it be? Carbon monoxide also chirp like smoke detectors when the battery is low.
  • Where do I find specific details about my smoke alarm? We would recommend that you keep your instruction manual. Many of the smoke alarm instruction manuals are posted to the manufacturer's website so you may want to look there.
  • What if my smoke alarm gets wet? Detectors that get wet will set off the alarm. Remove and replace the smoke alarm. Detectors installed near bathrooms can be set off by shower steam.


For additional information regarding smoke alarms please email or call (303) 651-8437.

 See also -
Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors
Fire Extinguishers
Commercial Fire Alarm Installation
Fire Sprinkler Installation



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