Smoke detectors are for life
March 7, 2012barriehol
I spent last weekend helping my daughter and family to move house. As they are renting out the old property before she vacated we had to check that the appropriate fire safety provisions were met in accordance with Health and Safety regulations, including Fire regulations, Gas Safe registration and electrical appliance safety testing.
The house was already fitted with smoke alarms on each floor and a quick press of the test button showed they were in working order. As the house had a gas combi boiler I had already persuaded my daughter to install a Carbon Monoxide alarm as an extra precaution, a provision that impressed the incoming tenants.
When I got to the new house I was happy to see a smoke alarm on the first floor landing and in the dining area adjacent the kitchen exactly where they should be. I was less impressed when I tried the test buttons as both were inoperative. They were quality branded optical smoke alarms and kitemarked to BS5446 but on inspection both batteries were spent. It really is hard to explain how someone could take the trouble to install smoke alarms and then not maintain them.
After a laborious day lifting and shifting we repaired to the pub to wind down and met up with some friends. By coincidence one was relating how he was replacing his electric fire with a wood burner. I commented that as I have an open fire I have to be careful to ensure the flue is swept regularly and ventilation is good otherwise smoke may leak into the living area and trigger false alarms on the detectors.
His response was that his smoke alarm was eating batteries and forever bleeping which is an automatic alarm indicating low battery levels on all BS5446 detectors. His remedy was to take out the batteries. Well either he is either unlucky or he has bought a cheap substandard unit as the batteries in a standard alarm should easily last a year.
The answer is not to disable the single most effective defence against major fire damage and loss of life in the home. I pointed him in the direction of the sealed battery smoke detectors that have a ten year life and can only hope he takes my advice.