New smoke detector laws, including a change that took effect July 1, are intended to keep working alarms in rental properties and homes in throughout California
State Senate Bills 1394 and 745 are phasing in rules for installation and types of smoke alarms during the next two years.
The biggest change, which took effect July 1, requires all new battery-operated smoke alarms sold in California to be built with a nonremovable 10-year battery. Existing smoke detectors don’t have to be replaced until they reach the end of their 10-year lifespan or start malfunctioning.
As of Jan. 1, all new smoke alarms will have to be imprinted with their date of manufacture and have a space to mark the date of installation. They will also be required to have a hush feature — a way to momentarily disable the alarm for a short period.
Some city building codes for new homes requires a smoke detector in each bedroom, in the hallway outside each separate sleeping area and on every floor, including basements and inhabitable attics. Smoke alarms need to be wired into the home’s electrical system and have a battery backup. They also have to be interconnected, so that when one alarm sounds, they all sound.
Home owners who do not have hard-wired or interconnected smoke detectors are not required to add them unless they make a repair or addition to the building that requires a building permit or costs more than $1,000.
A 2011 study by the National Fire Protection Association noted that 38 percent of deaths involving fires occurred in a dwelling without a working smoke detector.
The goal of SAFE Home, which started in the 1980s, is to have a properly installed and operating smoke detector in every dwelling in Tracy. Hanlon said that fire crews still carry 9-volt batteries to help residents who have older detectors.