SMOKE ALARM INSTALLATION REQUESTS
The Vancouver Fire Department cannot assist in changing or installing hard-wired smoke alarms. For those in need who cannot afford new smoke alarms, the Fire Department has a limited supply of single station battery powered smoke alarms that can be installed by emergency responders between calls. To request an installation please send us an email or call us at (360) 487-7260.
Smoke Alarm Types & the Law
Smoke alarms are proven to save lives
There are three types of smoke alarms, ionization, photoelectric and a combination of the two which is commonly called a "dual" detector. Look for the UL stamp on any smoke alarm.
Dual smoke alarms combine ionization and photoelectric sensor systems to enhance home safety. Recent research has shown that the standard ionization alarms have been unreliable in multiple tests of slow, smoky fires. Ionization alarm perform best in fast flaming fires. A combo unit is considered to provide greatest overall safety in either situation
Ionization smoke alarms monitor “ions” or electrically charged particles. Smoke particles change the electrical balance of the air. The alarm will sound when the change in electrical balance reaches a preset level. (IFSTA Fire and Life Safety Educator Pg 38)
Photoelectric smoke alarms use a beam of light and a light sensor. Smoke particles change the amount of light that reaches the sensor causing the alarm to sound. (IFSTA Fire and Life Safety Educator Pg 39)
Heat detectors are best used over hazards where flaming fires could be expected such as a garage or utility area. Heat detectors have a slower response than smoke detectors according to the National Fire Protection Association because heat generated by small fires tends to dissipate fairly rapidly. (NFPA Fire Protection Handbook Page 5-20, 5-58 & 59).
The law on smoke alarms
Washington State Requirements for All Homes: The Building Code has required smoke alarms/detectors in all dwellings since the 1973 edition of the code. Currently, all new dwellings are required to have hard-wired, interconnected smoke detectors with battery back-up on each level of the home as well as in each bedroom.
Washington State Requirements for Rentals: In homes and apartments used as rentals, the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) Section 212-10-045, Item 2 states: “It is the responsibility of the owner of each existing building, mobile home or factory-built housing to install smoke detection devices within each dwelling unit occupied by persons other than the owner.” Item 3 states: “It is the responsibility of the owner of each new or existing building, mobile home or factory-built housing, containing dwelling units occupied by persons other than the owner, to inspect and test all smoke detection devices at the time of vacancy and make the necessary repairs or replacements to insure that the smoke detection devices are operational prior to re-occupancy, and to instruct the occupants of the purpose, operation and maintenance of the smoke detection device(s).”
WAC 212-10-050 states: “It is the responsibility of the occupant of all new or existing dwelling units, owned by other than the occupant, to maintain and test all smoke detection devices installed within the dwelling unit by the owner. Actual costs of maintenance, repair or replacement of smoke detection devices shall be as agreed beforehand by the occupant and owner. However, failure of the owner to abide by the terms of any such agreement does not relieve the occupant to the penalty provisions of WAC 212-10-050.”
Is the smoke alarm the way everyone knows dinner is ready?
Don't pull the battery! Smoke alarms now come with "hush" buttons that temporarily silence them until the smoke clears.
How old are your smoke alarms?
If you think they may be older than 10 years, it is time to replace them. Don't forget how important these are. They are active while the family is asleep and are designed to wake everyone before it is too late!