Smoke Alarms Save Lives
The majority of fatal home fires happen at night when people are asleep. Contrary to popular belief, the smell of smoke may not wake a sleeping person. Inexpensive household smoke detectors sound an alarm, alerting you to a fire. By giving you time to escape, smoke alarms increase the chance of surviving a home fire by almost 50%.
Choosing an Alarm
Dozens of brands and types of smoke alarms available, including battery and hard-wired types, and alarms that use an “ionization” sensor or “photoelectric” detection systems for smoke.
All approved smoke alarms, regardless of type, will offer adequate protection if they are installed and maintained properly.
Be sure the smoke alarm you buy bears the label of an independent testing laboratory, such as UL.
One Alarm is Not Enough
Smoke alarms should be installed outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. On floors without bedrooms, alarms should be installed in or near living areas such as dens, living rooms, or family rooms.
Ensure everyone sleeping in your home can hear your smoke alarm even with bedroom doors closed. If not, or if any residents are hearing-impaired, install additional detectors inside bedrooms.
For the hearing impaired, there are smoke alarms that flash a strobe light in addition to sounding an audible alarm.
For extra protection, additional detectors can be installed in dining rooms, furnace rooms, utility rooms, and hallways.
Smoke alarms are not recommended for kitchens, bathrooms, or garages where cooking fumes, steam, or exhaust could set off false alarms or for attics and other unheated spaces where humidity and temperature changes might affect a detectors’ operation.
Also, don’t install a smoke alarm too near a window, door or forced air register where drafts could interfere with the unit’s operation.
Where to install alarms:
- Because smoke rises, mount alarms high on a wall or on the ceiling. Wall-mounted units should be hung 4 to 12 inches (10 to 30 cm) from the ceiling. A ceiling mounted detector should be attached at least 4 inches (10 cm) from the nearest wall.
- In rooms with pitched ceilings, mount the alarm at or near the ceiling’s highest point.
- In stairways with no doors at the top or bottom, position smoke alarms anywhere in the path of smoke moving up the stairs. But always position smoke alarms at the bottom of closed stairways, such as those leading to the basement, because dead air trapped near the door at the top of a stairway could prevent smoke from reaching the detector.
Installing the Alarm
Most battery-powered smoke alarms, as well as units that plug into wall outlets, can be installed-following manufacturer’s instructions using only a drill and screwdriver. Plug-in detectors require restraining devices so they cannot be disconnected accidentally from their outlets.
Smoke alarms can also be hard-wired into a building’s electrical system. Never connect a smoke alarm to a circuit that can be turned off at a wall switch, unless it is provided with a rechargeable battery and it is specifically designed for such use.
Remember, only a working smoke alarm will protect you. Regular maintenance is required.
- Never disable an alarm by borrowing its batteries for another use.
- Following manufacturer’s instructions, test all smoke alarms at least twice a year when the clocks change.
- Install new batteries in battery-powered units at least once per year. Many of these units “chirp” or make some other noise when their batteries need to be replaced.
- Clean and vacuum your smoke alarms at least twice a year when the clocks change, as dust and cobwebs can reduce their sensitivity to smoke.
- Replace all alarms when they are 10 years old, regardless of condition.
When the Alarm Sounds
Ensure your entire household can recognize the sound of the smoke alarm and knows what to do. Find out more about home fire safety.
New Smoke Alarm Regulations
BC Fire Code requires all homes, hotel and motel rooms to be installed with either a battery-operated or hard-wired smoke alarm. Previously, the Fire Code required smoke alarms only in buildings constructed after 1979; the change aims to reduce the safety risks and damage caused by fires in older buildings.
According to statistics, there are 36 fire deaths a year in B.C., and 80-90% of the deaths occur in homes. Smoke alarms increase the chance of surviving a fire by almost 50%.
The smoke alarm regulation is now part of the City’s fire protection bylaw, which includes all provisions of the Fire Code. In addition, City inspectors will now look for smoke alarms while conducting building inspections related to renovations or other work that requires permits.
High Risk Smoke Alarm Campaign
Seniors and people with disabilities in Port Coquitlam can now request free high-quality smoke alarms and help testing their existing alarms from the city.
The smoke alarm giveaway and testing program, coordinated by Port Coquitlam Fire & Emergency Services, is part of a province-wide campaign led by the Fire Chiefs’ Association of B.C. to ensure every home in the province has a working smoke alarm.
Research shows that smoke alarms were not functioning in almost 70 per cent of the residential fires in B.C. from 2006 to 2011. It also indicates that the elderly, First Nations and other vulnerable populations face the highest risk of dying in a residential fire. The study predicted that working smoke alarms could reduce fire deaths in B.C. by as much as 32 per cent. At least one smoke alarm is recommended on every level of a home.
Port Coquitlam is one of more than 55 B.C. communities to receive free Kidde smoke alarms through the provincial campaign, kicked off in March 2012.
The city is targeting people over age 60 and high-risk residents – such as people with disabilities who live independently – for its free smoke alarm giveaway and testing program.
The intent is to reduce both the frequency and severity of fires in citizens’ homes, and to allow people at higher risk from fires live independently and confidently in their homes.
Port Coquitlam residents who meet the criteria, or someone on their behalf, are invited to contact the department at 604-927-5288 or fill out the smoke alarm request form to request a free alarm and installation, or assistance testing an existing alarm.
Location and Mailing Address
#1 Fire Hall, 1725 Broadway Street
Port Coquitlam BC V3C 2M9
Administration Offices Business Hours:
8:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday to Friday (excluding statutory holidays)