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Smoke Alarms

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Do you need smoke alarms? Do you need help installing smoke alarms?

The safety of each and every citizen is important to the Amarillo Fire Department

If you or your family need assistance installing or simply need smoke alarms, AFD firefighters will provide and install them. If you currently have alarms installed and want to be sure that they are working – give us a call! We can help with that as well!

To schedule an appointment call Captain Kyle Joy at 378-9340.

PLEASE keep reading for lifesaving information about SMOKE ALARMS.

Does your home have smoke alarms?

“Several studies have concluded that when working smoke alarms are present, the chance of dying from the fire is cut in half!”

How should the alarms be Installed?

Smoke alarms are normally installed on the ceiling or high on the wall, with the top of the alarm not closer than 4 inches nor further than 12 inches from the ceiling. Alarms should be no closer than 3 feet from supply registers of forced air heating systems (that might blow on the alarm preventing it from seeing smoke) and no closer than 3 feet from the door to a kitchen or a bathroom containing a shower (steam can set the alarm off when the door is opened).

If an alarm is mounted on an exterior wall or a ceiling below an unheated attic that is poorly insulated (the surface gets noticeably cold in the winter and warm in the summer), the temperature difference can prevent smoke from getting to the alarm. Placing the alarm on an inside wall avoids the problem. In desert climates where evaporative coolers are being used, mount smoke alarms on walls 12 inches below the ceiling. These coolers add moisture that can cause the smoke to drop.

Older adults may have difficulty reaching alarms on the ceiling to change batteries. If hard-wired alarms are impractical, wall mounting 12 inches down should be considered.

Are your alarms working?

“….it is estimated that a third of the smoke alarms in place are not working, often due to failure to replace a worn out battery; and third, many homes do not have as many smoke alarms as are needed to protect the occupants properly.”

Do you have enough smoke alarms in your home (and on all levels)?

The primary job of a smoke alarm is to protect you from fires while you are asleep. Thus, your alarms should be located between any sleeping persons and the rest of the house ‘ outside bedrooms or sleeping areas. But tests conducted in the 1970’s clearly showed that this might not be enough.

In multi-story homes, fires on a floor level without a smoke alarm can grow to dangerous conditions before sufficient smoke can rise in a stairway to set off an alarm on the upper floor. Based on this observation, most codes require that additional smoke alarms be located on each floor level of the home.

A closed door provides protection from smoke on the other side, but will also prevent smoke from reaching a smoke alarm. This is particularly a problem in bedrooms. If you sleep with your bedroom door closed, you should add a smoke alarm in the bedroom; particularly if you smoke in the bedroom or there is a TV, air conditioner, or other major appliances in the bedroom that might start a fire. If you sleep with the bedroom door open, the alarm in the hall outside will detect a fire in the bedroom or elsewhere.

There are a few places where a smoke alarm should not be placed. These include kitchens and garages (cooking fumes and car exhaust are likely to set them off) and unheated attics and crawl spaces (where it can get too cold or hot for the electronics to work properly). Fires beginning in these areas are generally detected by the other smoke alarms in enough time to escape safely. If an alarm is desired in these spaces, heat detectors are available. But remember that the smoke alarms are the primary safety devices in any home protection scheme.

Have you replaced the batteries?

Amarillo Fire Department recommends that all smoke alarms batteries should be replaced at each time-change; both in the spring and once again in the fall.

How old are your alarms?

Smoke alarms have a useful life of about ten years. At that age they should be replaced, even if they seem to be working. This will assure that the alarm will be working when you need it.

Even though prices of today’s smoke alarms are less expensive than you might have paid some years ago, today’s alarms are more reliable. Thus, it is usually not worth keeping an old alarm rather than buying a replacement.

How often do you test your smoke alarms?

Smoke alarms should be tested at least once a month. All smoke alarms have a test button that you push to check out the entire alarm, including its sensitivity (how much smoke it takes to set it off). If the testing mechanism does not work properly, the alarm should be replaced immediately. Never use open flame devices to test an alarm.

Does your family know what your smoke alarms sound like?

We take for granted that once our family hears a smoke alarm, they will recognize the sound and exit the house.

Make the testing of your smoke alarms a family event!

This is the only way you can ensure that everyone is familiar with the sound that your alarms make and know that it is time to leave the house!