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Smoke alarms

Smoke alarms are the only efficient way of alerting people to a fire in their home.

Photograph of hands fixing a smoke alarm onto a ceiling.

A smoke alarm could save your life! It's an early warning system that warns you almost as soon as a fire starts, giving you time to alert everybody in your household and to escape.

Top smoke alarm safety tips:

  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month, we promote once a week - Test it Tuesday
  • Make sure that there is a working smoke alarm on every level of your home
  • Never ignore a beeping alarm

How to take care of your smoke alarm

In the event of a fire you need your smoke alarm to work for you, so you must look after it.

Smoke alarm maintenance is key, so never ignore a beeping smoke alarm. If an alarm is beeping intermittently (not in a continuous and steady way), this may mean that the alarm needs replacing or a new battery. Be aware the longer you leave it the more frequent it will chirp. The longer it chirps the more it will drain the battery life, leaving the alarm less likely to warn you in an emergency.

  • Some alarms have sealed batteries, where the whole unit will need replacing at the end of its life. Check what kind of smoke alarms you have installed in your home - if you have a 10-year alarm, you will need to replace the whole alarm every 10 years
  • If your alarm doesn't have sealed batteries, you may need to change the battery. Check to see what batteries your alarm uses and have a spare. Most alarms use 9v batteries - we recommend replacing these once a year
  • Regularly wipe over each alarm with a dry cloth. If possible, use a vacuum cleaner attachment to gently remove dust and dirt - this may help to avoid false activation triggered by cobwebs or dust

Be aware that many homes now benefit from hard-wired interlinked alarms powered by mains electric with a back-up battery power source.

Fitting your smoke alarm

There should be a working smoke alarm on every level of your home. Hallways between living and sleeping areas are a good place to fit these on the ceiling.

  • Ideally, place smoke alarms as close to the middle of the room, hallway or landing as possible. Make sure that they are at least 30 centimetres (12 inches) away from walls and light fittings
  • Simply screw smoke alarms into the ceiling, always following the manufacturer's instructions
  • Do not fit smoke alarms in kitchens and bathrooms

Types of smoke alarm

There are several different types of alarm available to suit your needs. Alarms have varying features, which may include a 'hush button' or an emergency light.

  • Battery models are available in standard (1-5-year life) or sealed long-life versions (up to 10 years)
  • Others are linked directly to the mains electricity and backed up by a rechargeable battery
  • There are also types that plug into a light fitting with a battery back up
  • For the deaf or hard of hearing there are units available with a strobe-type light and vibrating pads for under the pillow at night
  • An ionisation type alarm is good for detecting free-burning, 'flaming' fires (for example chip-pan fires)
  • An optical type alarm is good for detecting slow-burning or 'smouldering' fires (for example, foam-filled furniture)
  • The 'hush button' facility allows you to silence the alarm if it has activated when there is not a fire, for example from cooking fumes or cigarette smoke. Once activated the alarm will silence and rearm itself after a few minutes. The hush system is overridden if there is a real fire
  • Some types can be inter-linked together so that they will all operate if a single unit is activated

WiFi enabled or 'Smart' smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

These types of alarms allow the occupier to get an alert direct to their phone, tablet or device should an alarm activate within their property.

Although this is a very good system, if it is only linked to one person's device, there is the potential an alert could be missed.

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service strongly advise that at least two people's phones, tablets or devices should be linked to wi-fi enabled smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to ensure fire alerts can always be received and acted upon immediately.

Telecare / Community Alarms

These systems are fitted and monitored by a company in order to render support and assistance in case of a fall or other emergency.  We strongly advise you to have smoke detectors linked into this system so your alarm monitoring centre is made aware if your alarm sounds and they can call us if you have a fire.

Buying a smoke alarm

You can buy smoke alarms from any reputable DIY store, hardware and electrical shops, supermarkets, via mail order and online. If you have referred yourself or a family member for a home fire safety visit or risk check, we may fit smoke alarms in your property as part of the visit. It's best to fit 10-year sealed battery smoke alarms. You should always make sure that the smoke alarms you buy have the British Kitemark BSEN14604 : 2005 on them.

Smoke alarms in rented accommodation

As a tenant, your landlord is responsible for making sure that there are smoke alarms fitted on every level of the property you are renting. They are also are responsible for offering protection against carbon monoxide. It is, however, your responsibility as a tenant to check that smoke alarms are in working order, and notify your landlord of any faults or queries. Overall, your landlord has a responsibility by law for the following:

  • Fit at least one smoke alarm on each level of the property
  • Make sure there is a carbon monoxide alarm in every room containing a solid fuel appliance
  • Check that all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are in good working order at the start of each tenancy. Landlords can be fined £5,000 if they don't comply with this

Fire Angel alarms

If your alarm was fitted by Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service then it has a sealed battery. Alarms fitted within the warranty period 10 years (Standard), 5 years (Wi-Fi) that are deemed faulty would be considered for replacement by Fire Angel Technology Limited. Contact Fire Angel on 0800 141 2561 for information on replacement, further advice and customer support with your Fire Angel product.

Using your Fire Angel alarm

If your smoke alarm was installed from 2016 onwards, you may be able to silence your alarm if it starts chirping.

Press the centre button and it will silence the alarm for 8 hours. However, if you do this more than 7 times it is likely that your alarm will stop working.

To replace the alarm, grip the main alarm unit and turn anticlockwise by a quarter turn - this should remove the alarm from its baseplate and allow you to fit a replacement.