Maryland Passes Smoke Detector Law to Save Lives

Posted by , , at 9:02 am

Winter may be the peak season for residential fires, but a recent article about home fire safety seemed well worth sharing – so here you are! It appears that the incidence of dead batteries in smoke detectors has caught the attention of one more jurisdiction, and that state fire officials in Maryland have now taken effective action to remedy the situation. Here’s the article, along with some relevant excerpts.

To address the increase in Maryland residential fire fatalities as compared to the same time last year, a new state law aimed at reducing home fire deaths will require long-life sealed-in battery smoke alarms effective July 1. The Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office and other fire officials have joined leading fire safety product manufacturer, Kidde Fire Safety, in a public service campaign urging families to take action. Kidde is a part of UTC Climate, Controls, & Security, a unit of United Technologies Corp.

It’s a small world indeed. United Technologies is also the maker of FrontPoint’s best-in-class GE Security alarm equipment.

More on the New Law

The new law requires homeowners to replace any battery-operated smoke alarm more than 10 years old with a unit powered by a 10-year sealed-in battery. These alarms provide continuous protection for a decade, and national fire experts, such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) recommend their use. Two-thirds of all home fire deaths occur in homes with either no smoke alarm or no working alarm, mainly due to missing or disconnected batteries. To date, 39 Maryland residents have died in home fires, 35% of which did not have working smoke alarms.

Maryland Stats Make the Case

“More than 800,000 Maryland homes use battery-operated smoke alarms, and we can’t emphasize enough the importance of upgrading those smoke alarms to help ensure families have working alarms in case of a home fire,” said Bruce Bouch, Maryland Deputy State Fire Marshal. “By sealing the battery inside the alarm, the unit becomes tamper resistant and removes the burden from consumers to remember to change batteries, which will save lives.”

Every Second Counts in a Home Fire

“You have only minutes from the sound of the first smoke alarm to escape a fire,” said Chief Ron Siarnicki, executive director, National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and officer of the Maryland State Firemen’s Association, which supported this law. “The sooner you hear an alarm, the sooner you can respond and the better chance a family has to escape. Not only does this help your family, but it decreases the chance a firefighter would be injured or killed trying to save a life.”

No Alarm System to Begin With

Most of the homes involved in residential fires do not have a monitored security system, let alone fire monitoring, but fire monitoring is one of the most important reasons to have a home alarm system in the first place. And for those with intrusion alarms, adding fire monitoring to a wireless home alarm system is such a logical course of action, it’s amazing that more people don’t do it – especially when they have children and pets.

Then again, there are plenty of alarm companies who expect you to pay a lot for the smoke & heat sensors, and who add an unnecessary surcharge to the monthly fee for a service that does not cost them any extra. The best alarm companies include fire monitoring at no additional cost to you.

Most reputable alarm companies (including FrontPoint) recommend at least one monitored smoke and heat sensor for every system they sell. The main reason is that your standard non-monitored smoke detector is really just a noisemaker. Yes, it’s much better than nothing, and we know it has saved lives – but don’t you want to know the fire department is being summoned as soon as possible? You may be away, or – much worse – overcome by smoke in your own home. That’s when you definitely want a system that quickly and proactively reaches out the people who can help. For more information, here’s a link to my previous post on monitored fire protection.

FrontPoint continues to provide the latest in interactive, wireless home security, including 24-hour fire monitoring for no additional monthly fee. We are proud members of the NFPA, and fully support their goal of protecting us in our homes and workplaces – just one more reason why FrontPoint is known as the #1 ranked alarm company in the US.

Comments (5)

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  1. David Easter

    It’s surprising how many people take batteries out of smoke alarms to use in radios etc. The 10 year sealed battery unit will stop that practice and hopefully save a few lives. Time is of the essence when a smoke alarm is triggered as it’s the fumes (silent killer) that are the main danger. Installing smoke alarms and heat detectors is one thing, testing them is another. If you use a wall calendar and who doesn’t, make a note on one particular day of each month to press the test button on each unit. It’s a bit of a boring job, but think about this, you might not be there if a fire breaks out. If you have family they will need all the warning they can get – hope that’s enough incentive.

  2. Alan

    I had not heard of these 10 year sealed battery fire alarms. Interesting. Will keep in mind for future upgrades, though I think I have enough redundancy to cover me now, plus the FP monitored alarm I have sends me a text message (plus audible alerts at home) when its battery is low.

    Glad MD is stepping up to protect its citizens from so many unnecessary fire deaths.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Thanks for the comment, Alan. The 10-year sealed battery is an interesting approach – but as you correctly observe, nothing beats an alarm system that is also monitored for fire.

  3. Alan

    I had not heard of these 10 year sealed battery fire alarms. Interesting. Will keep in mind for future upgrades, though I think I have enough redundancy to cover me now, plus the FP monitored alarm I have sends me a text message (plus audible alerts at home) when its battery is low.

    Glad MD is stepping up to protect its citizens from so many unnecessary fire deaths.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Thanks for the comment, Alan. The 10-year sealed battery is an interesting approach – but as you correctly observe, nothing beats an alarm system that is also monitored for fire.

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