Smoke Detector Program
Smoke detectors are the single most important means of preventing house and apartment fire fatalities by providing an early warning signal — so families can escape. Smoke alarms are one of the best safety features that can be easily installed to protect residents and their property. The fire department administers two separate programs that provide free smoke detectors to residents:
1) Through a cooperative effort with the Allegheny County Health Department, the fire department initiated a senior smoke detector installation program in the Spring of 2005 that provides free smoke detectors to residents 55 years and older. Smoke detectors are installed in a senior’s home by request. In addition, fire department staff follow-up with these seniors on an annual basis to remind them to change their batteries. If a senior is unable to change the batteries in their smoke detector, a staff member changes them for the senior.
2) On all routine and emergency responses, fire department personnel check to ensure that residents are protected by a working smoke detector. If a battery is dead or missing, it is replaced. If a smoke detector is not present, or is not operable, a new detector is installed at no charge.
Smoke Detector Care, Placement & Maintenance
At a minimum, a smoke detector should be installed on every floor in your home. If possible, smoke detectors should also be installed in each sleeping area. In the event of a fire, an individual may not hear a detector that is in a hallway if they are sleeping.
In general, smoke detectors should be placed in the center of a ceiling or, if placed on a wall, they should be at least 10 inches below the ceiling. If a wall mounted detector is placed too close to the ceiling or a ceiling mounted detector is placed in a corner, an air pocket may form around them, possibly making them slower to detect a smoke condition. Smoke detectors should also not be mounted to close to a kitchen or fireplace due to the potential for numerous false alarms that may lead to an immunity to the alarm in the event of a real fire.
Finally, smoke detectors should be tested monthly. If the detector fails to activate, check and/or replace the batteries. Also, if the detector begins to “chirp”, this is likely an indication that the detector is low and the batteries need to be replaced. Smoke detectors should be replaced every 10 years.