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Smoke Alarm Information

Statistics show that in all reported fires that occurred in a residential structures for 2020, Thirty-Two percent (32%) had no smoke alarm and Six (6%) of those present failed to work. Of those that failed to work, Twenty-Eight percent (28%) were due to missing or dead batteries.  

Statutory Requirment for Smoke and CO Alarms

  • Be sure that smoke alarms carry the label of an independent testing lab, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). household currents.
  • Smoke alarms have different sensor technologies:
    • Ionization Smoke Alarms - More effective against fast-flaming fires- fire which consume materials rapidly and spread quickly. Sources of these fires may be paper fires or kitchen fires.
    • Photoelectric Smoke Alarms - These alarms are more effective against slow smoldering fires (fires which smolder for hours before busting into flame.)Sources of these fires include cigarettes burning in couches or bedding.
  • Combo Units - Ionization/Photoelectric are available and provide early warning of both types of fires.
  • Install at least one in every floor including the basement and attic and inside each sleeping area.
  • Ensure that all members of your family can hear the smoke alarm. If someone is hearing impaired, install alarms that flash a strobe light as well as sound an alarm.
  • Follow the directions that are provided with the alarm.

Experts recommend that:

  • Smoke alarms are installed outside each sleeping area, in every bedroom and above stairwells.
  • Mount alarms high on a wall or on top of the ceiling. Position wall-mounted alarms with the top of the alarm 4-12 inches (10-30 centimeter) from the ceiling.
  • Position ceiling-mounted alarms at least 4 inches (10 centimeters) away from the nearest wall.
  • In stairways with no doors at the top or bottom, install alarms anywhere along the path smoke would take as it traveled up the stairs.
  • Dont install a smoke alarm near a window, door, or forced-air register where drafts could interfere with its operation. The moving air can blow smoke away from the alarms sensor.
  • To avoid false alarms, keep smoke alarms at least ten feet from stoves and steamy showers.
  • Follow the directions that are provided with the alarm.

Experts state that:

  • Most battery-powered smoke alarms can be installed by following the manufacturers instructions using a drill and screwdriver.
  • Plug in alarms must have restraining devises so they cannot be unplugged by mistake.
  • Hard-wire alarms need to be installed by a qualified electrician.
  • Never connect a smoke alarm to a circuit that can be turned off from a wall switch.
  • Test smoke alarms once a month by pushing the test button.
  • Install new batteries at least once a year.
  • To have the Alaska State Fire Marshal's Office remind you via email, sign up for the Automatic Smoke Alarm Reminder.
  • Clean smoke alarms using a vacuum cleaner without removing the alarms cover.
  • Replace smoke alarm every 10 years.
Contact for further information at:
Public Education Coordinator
Fire Training Specialist
Virginia McMichael
5700 E. Tudor Road
Anchorage, AK 99507
Phone: (907) 269-5481
Fax: (907) 269-0134