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Installing smoke alarms in your home

​Which smoke alarm should I get?

There are two main types of smoke alarm – ionisation and optical.

  • ionisation:
    very sensitive to flaming fires (ones that burn fiercely such as chip pan fires) and they will detect this type of fire before the smoke gets too thick
  • optical:
    more sensitive at detecting slow burning fires (such as smouldering foam filled furniture and overheated wiring).  Optical alarms are less likely to go off accidentally, and so are best for ground floor hallways and homes on one level

As both slow burning and flaming fires are common, you should install one of each type for the best protection.  However, if you can’t have both, it's still safer to have one smoke alarm than none at all.

How many do I need?

The ideal is one in every room, except the bathroom and kitchen, but as a minimum:

  • if you live on one level, fit the alarm in the hallway between the living and sleeping area
  • if your home has more than one level, fit one alarm on the ceiling at the bottom of the staircase and a further alarm on each landing

Where should I fit them?

Fit them on the ceiling, as near as possible to the centre of the room, hallway or landing. The alarm should be at least 30cm (12”) away from any wall or light.

Is there anywhere I shouldn’t put a smoke alarm?

You should not put a smoke alarm:

  • in the kitchen or bathroom – they can be accidentally set off by cooking fumes or steam
  • in a garage – they can be triggered by exhaust fumes
  • on a wall – smoke rises straight up and will therefore set off an alarm on the ceiling more quickly, giving you more time to escape

How do I fit them?

Ideally they should be screwed to the ceiling, as per the instruction booklet. However, where this is not possible, they can be stuck to the ceiling with grab adhesive or double sided sticky pads.

What if I am hard of hearing?

The Jersey Fire and Rescue Service can provide specialist alarms which have vibrating pads and / or flashing lights to warn people with hearing impairments.  Contact us if you think that you, or someone you know, might need one.

The provision of these specialist alarms is possible thanks to sponsorship from the Jersey Society for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

My smoke alarm is wired into the mains electrics, what should I do?

The Fire and Rescue Service are unable to give advice on the maintenance of mains-powered smoke detector systems.  You should contact a qualified electrical engineer.

Check your smoke alarm regularly

Every year people are killed or injured in fires because their alarms failed to work due to flat or missing batteries.  To ensure you and your family are fully protected follow this advice:

  • once a week test the battery by pressing the test button until the alarm sounds.  If the alarm ever starts to ‘beep’ regularly, replace the battery as soon as possible
  • twice a year open the case and gently vacuum the inside to remove dust from the sensor.  If it doesn’t open, vacuum through the holes
  • once a year change the battery (unless it is a 10 year alarm).  Consider using an anniversary or birthday as a reminder and put a note in your calendar or diary
  • after 10 years it is best to replace your smoke alarm

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