STOW, MA – “This weekend as you change your clocks, check your alarms,” said State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey. “Working smoke alarms are key to surviving a fire. This is a good time of year to replace regular batteries in your alarms, to test them, and to check for their birthdates. If they are more than 10- years old, replace the entire alarm,” he added.
Replace Aging Smoke Alarms
“Smoke alarms, like other household appliances, don’t last forever,” said Chief Dennis Condon, president of the Fire Chiefs’ Association of Massachusetts, “Every ten years the entire alarm needs to be replaced, not just the batteries,” he added. Carbon monoxide alarms usually need to be replaced after 5-7.
Replacement Alarms Should be Photoelectric With 10-year Sealed Batteries
The state fire code requires replacement battery-operated smoke alarms in older one- and two-family homes to be photoelectric and have 10-year, sealed, non-replaceable, non-rechargeable batteries and a hush feature,” Ostroskey said, “Fire officials hope that if we make smoke alarms easier for people to maintain, they will take care of them. We see too many disabled smoke alarms in fires when people really needed them to work.”
Time Is Your Enemy in a Fire
“Time is your enemy in a fire. Working smoke alarms give you precious time to use your home escape plan before poisonous gases and heat make escape impossible.” said Ostroskey.
Condon said, “No one expects to be a victim of a fire, but the best way to survive one that does occur is to have working smoke alarms.” In the average house fire, there are only 1-3 minutes to escape AFTER the smoke alarm sounds. He added, “Take a few minutes to protect those you love by changing the batteries in your smoke alarms this weekend. Then take a step stool and some 9-volts to your parents’ or older neighbor’s and ask if you can refresh their smoke alarms.”
Two hundred forty (240) fire departments across the state have grant-funded Senior SAFE Programs. Seniors who need help testing, maintaining or replacing smoke alarms should contact their local fire department or senior center for assistance. Ostroskey said, “Four out of every ten people who died in fires last year were over 65. We want our seniors to be safe from fire in their own homes.”