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Smoke Alarm Questions

  1. What are the requirements for smoke alarm installation in your home following the Ontario Fire Code?
  2. What are the recommended locations for smoke alarms to be installed?
  3. Do smoke alarms last forever?
  4. How do I test a smoke alarm?
  5. What maintenance do smoke alarms require?
  6. Is it recommended that a homeowner purchase the new extended life battery powered smoke alarms? 
  7. What can be done about false alarms caused by bathroom steam and cooking smoke?
  8. Where can smoke alarms be purchased?

If you question does not appear on the Burlington Fire Departments Frequently Asked Questions page.  Send your question to firedepartment@burlington.ca


1. What are the requirements for smoke alarm installation in your home following the Ontario Fire Code?

  • The Ontario Fire Code requires that owners of dwellings provide, install, and maintain working smoke alarms in all residential premises. A smoke alarm is required to be installed between each sleeping area and the remainder of the dwelling unit. Where the sleeping areas are served by hallways, the smoke alarms must be installed in the hallways. In addition, at least one smoke alarm is required to be installed on each storey that does not contain a sleeping area.  All smoke alarms are to be maintained in good working order at all times.

Example: A two storey home with bedrooms located only on the upper level must have a smoke alarm installed in the hall adjacent to the sleeping rooms and also on the main floor and in the basement.

2. What are the recommended locations for smoke alarms to be installed?
  • It is highly recommended that smoke alarms be installed inside bedrooms if the occupant of that room sleeps with the door closed.  This will ensure that fires starting in the bedroom while someone is sleeping are detected in their earliest stages.
3. Do smoke alarms last forever?
  • Although there has been no conclusive tests on how long smoke alarms will last, it has been determined that as smoke alarms become 10 to 15 years old, they may become less sensitive to the products of combustion.
4. How do I test a smoke alarm?
  • Using the test button tests the audible portion of the smoke alarm only. This test should be done monthly to ensure the battery or electrical power supply is in good condition.

5. What maintenance do smoke alarms require?

  • Monthly testing, using the test button.
  • Gentle vacuuming every six months with a soft bristle brush attachment.
  • Replacement of battery power supply semi-annually (change battery when your clocks are changed)
  • Replace any alarms that are damaged, painted, malfunctioning or if they are over 10 years old.
6.  Is it recommended that a homeowner purchase the new extended life battery powered smoke alarms? 
  • Although the requirement for semi-annual replacement of battery is eliminated with these units, it is to be stressed to the homeowner that the testing procedures as noted above should still be conducted.
7. What can be done about false alarms caused by bathroom steam and cooking smoke?
  • Relocate the detector away from the source of the false alarms such as kitchens and bathrooms
  • Replace the detector with a unit that is equipped with a "pause" button which temporarily silences the alarm without removing the battery
  • Replace the unit with a photo-electric type smoke alarm. These units are less susceptible to false alarms from cooking smoke and steam, but are equally as effective as ionization units in detecting the products of combustion

8. Where can smoke alarms be purchased?

  • Smoke alarms are readily available in most hardware stores and department stores and range in price from $6.00 to $35.00.
  • An electrician can also hardwire a smoke alarm to your home electrical system.
Do you have a question that is not currently listed on the Burlington Fire Department FAQ page.  Email your question to firedepartment@burlington.ca.    

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