New smoke alarm law takes effect

A new Maryland law requiring homeowners to update smoke alarms in their homes went into effect Jan. 1.

The law, originally passed in 2013, requires homeowners replace battery-operated smoke alarms with either new battery sealed-in smoke alarms with a “silence or hush” feature or hardwired smoke alarms with a battery back-up.

“The main benefit that we think is that they are worry-free and that they work,” said Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services Spokesperson Pete Piringer.

Piringer said MCFRS has conducted an awareness campaign on the new law in hopes to encourage people to purchase the new battery-sealed smoke alarms to replace the old nine-volt battery-operated ones. While housing codes already require new homes to be built with hardwired smoke alarms with battery back-ups, the new battery-sealed smoke alarms are a more reliable alterative to traditional nine-volt battery types. Homes with nine-volt battery smoke alarms less than 10 years old will be grandfathered in.

“The simple thing is all smoke alarms regardless of type only last for 10 years. They have an expiration date,” Piringer said.

The new law applies to all homes, single and multi-families homes, apartments, condos and townhouses, but Piringer said while firefighters might provide smoke alarm checks when they visit homes, they are not code-enforced.

Current Maryland law requires all homes to have smoke alarms in all bedrooms and on every level of the home and need to be replaced every 10 years. Piringer said MCFRS went to big box stores after the General Assembly passed the new law in 2013, and asked them to stop selling the old nine-volt disposable battery-operated smoke alarms. Piringer said the new mandated smoke alarms cost anywhere from $20 to $150. 


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