Saturday, March 11, 2017

NFPA gets it wrong and confuses public and fire officials when they say replace smoke alarms after 10 years.

Yes it never cease to amaze me how UL and NFPA screws with the public and fire officials. take the
whole ideal you must replace smoke alarm / detectors after 10 years ..

I had a corporate customer call me other day all worried he had to change everyone of his 154 smoke detectors in his complex  he was relieved to know he did not have to after I explained to him the differences between smoke alarm and smoke detector 

Smoke detectors must be changed after 10 years
This is 100% false statement what you should be replacing is Smoke Alarms  not Smoke Detectors so whats the difference?

A Smoke Alarm is a single or multi connected unit either using Ionization or Photo Electric  or both technologies  which has a built in sounder and is powered by 120 vac or 9 volt battery or both .
these are found primarily in residential settings  and only units utilizing ionization need replaced if it is straight photo electric and passes tests it is still safe to use

 Kidde Battery powered smoke alarm
as you can see from date smoke alarm is past 10 years old needs replaced

A Smoke Detector is a unit which is connected to a Fire Alarm or combination Burglar/Fire Alarm
some times has a built in sounder and  is powered and supervised by  the panel .
These units only need replaced when they no longer pass sensitivity tests I have customers with smoke detectors going on 30 years and they still work as good as day they where installed but I highly recommend they change them when they are that old and most do few at a time when annual testing is done.  thou these units where at one time sold with ionization features they have not been made by manufacturers in many years  still same rule if they pass testing they do not need replaced only smoke alarms after 10 years.
 commercial hardwired smoke detector with optional sounder

So should you be concerned if a smoke detector or smoke alarm needs replaced after 10 years absolutely if they are smoke alarms of ionization type and a smoke detector which fails sensitivity testing.

This is why Fire Alarm systems require annual testing of detectors to make sure they are working
and records should be avalable upon request of the building owners representative .

You should also know you could have both types of units particularly in apartment buildings . Generally the units in hall ways are smoke detectors  tied to a system but not always some smaller buildings use daisy chained smoke alarms which need changed after 10 years  if they are ionization and usually inside the individual apartment you will find a smoke alarm which needs replaced  after 10 but again not always as some units inside the apartment are actually smoke detectors which have a local sounder in apartment  which sounds and heat which activates main fire  panel this help prevents false alarms while cooking  etc.
 So yes it can be very confusing and uninformed fire officials on the matter does not help.
It also does not help that unscrupulous alarm dealers are telling customers they need to replace there combo fire/ burg systems  smokes after 10 years when they only need tested.

Unsure what you have protecting your home or apartment building ask a professional  alarm technician or fire official..

Below is 2 examples of correct and incorrect wording of Public Service Announcement PSA adds 

Example of PSA with wrong incorrect  wording 

PSA with correct wording 


  1. When somebody owns a Fire Detection System accompanied by smoke detectors , one must know that an annual service is appropriate in order for it to be in perfect working order.
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