City of Lincoln
Fire & Rescue Department
Smoke Alarm: Installation, Maintenance, and Replacement
Smoke Alarms Save Lives!
Inexpensive home smoke alarms can wake you in time to escape - cutting your chances of dying nearly in half. Smoke alarms do save lives, and in most states, are required by law in private homes.
How to Choose an Alarm
Some home smoke alarms run on batteries, others on household current. There are also different sensor technologies, some faster to react when fires are smoldering, others faster when fires are openly flaming, all are fast enough to provide sufficient warning. All laboratory tested smoke alarms, regardless of type, will protect you if they're installed and maintained properly.
How Many Do You Need?
Be sure everyone sleeping in your home can hear your smoke alarms. If someone in your home is hearing-impaired, you can install alarms that flash a strobe light as well as sound an alarm. Some even use a different alarm-pitch that is easier for partially deaf people to hear.
The National Fire Alarm Code does not recommend installing alarms in kitchens, bathrooms, garages, where cooking fumes, steam, or exhaust might set off false alarms or in attics and other unheated spaces.
Where to Install
In stairways with no doors at the top or bottom, install alarms anywhere along the path smoke would take as it traveled up the stairs. But always position smoke alarms at the bottom of closed stairways, such as those leading from the basement. Dead air trapped near the door at the top of a stairway could prevent smoke from reaching an alarm located at the top.
Don't install a smoke alarm near a window, door, or forced-air register where drafts could interfere with its operation.
You can also hard-wire them into your home's electrical system. Have a qualified electrician do the job. Never connect a smoke alarm to a circuit that can be turned off from a wall switch.
Some new alarms come with a built-in "pause" button that lets you disable them safely for a few minutes, then turn them back on automatically.
Test all your alarms monthly by pushing the "test button" and listening for the “beep”. Install new batteries twice a year, preferably when you set the clocks back in the fall and ahead in the spring time. You should also change your smoke alarm battery when your alarm is "chirping" to indicate that the battery is low.
Clean your smoke alarms using a vacuum cleaner without removing the alarm's cover. This will assist to keep the alarm working properly and reduce the chances of a “nuisance” alarm.