Skip to main content

Oregon State Flag An official website of the State of Oregon » Homepage Search Site

Smoke CO Alarms


Smoke Alarm Installation Program for Fire Agencies

The OSFM smoke alarm installation program provides smoke alarms to Oregon fire agencies to install in homes without them. If your fire agency wants to learn more about the program, eligibility, and requirements, click here.

Smoke Alarms: Frequently Asked Questions

Click through the accordion below to read about the most commonly asked questions.

Smoke is poisonous and it moves fast! Smoke rises to the ceiling and quickly fills a room, making it very dark and almost impossible to breathe. Working smoke alarms monitor the air in your home 24 hours a day! Having smoke alarms installed in your home alerts you to smoke and gives your family extra time to get out.

​During a house fire, you may only have two minutes to escape.​​​

A smoke alarm is a self-contained unit that detects smoke and then sounds an alarm. These are the devices that are required in homes.

​A smoke detector is not self-contained. It operates as part of a larger alarm system. A smoke detector detects smoke and sends a signal to an alarm panel. These systems are usually found in commercial properties.​

Yes - Ionization smoke alarms are more responsive to fast-moving, flaming types of fires and photoelectric smoke alarms are more responsive to slow, smoldering types of fires. There are also alarms that use both ionization and photoelectric technology to give early warning for both types of fires. 

New multi-criteria smoke alarms can detect smoke from cooking and will not sound a nuisance alarm. 

Always choose alarms that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory.​

Check the back of your alarm. The sticker on the back of your smoke alarm has information about the type of alarm, its expiration date, and what kind of batteries it needs.​​

Many smoke alarms come with a hush feature that will silence nuisance alarms for up to 15 minutes while you clear the room of steam from a shower, or smoke from candles or cooking.​

You are 55% more likely to survive a home fire if you have working smoke alarms in your home.

A continual series of 3 beeps and a pause means your smoke alarm has detected smoke in the air. 

A single short beep, or “chirp" every 30 to 60 seconds means the battery is low. You may need to replace the battery, or the entire alarm.

  • Follow the package instructions for cleaning your alarms.
  • Use the type of battery recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Check the date - Smoke alarms with a non-replaceable (long-life) battery are designed to be effective for up to 10 years. When the batteries are depleted, the whole alarm needs to be replaced.
  • Replace smoke alarm batteries of any other type at least once a year.
  • Test your alarms at least once a month by pushing the test button.
  • Replace ALL smoke alarms when they are 10 years old.

Make sure everyone knows what to do when they hear the alarm.​

There are multi-sensory alarms and assistive devices for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Children may sleep through the sound of an alarm and may need help to wake up and get out.

Recordable or “talking" smoke alarms, low-frequency alarms, and alarms with higher decibel levels are other options to warn people who cannot hear a standard smoke alarm.

Smoke alarms are required to be installed:

  • According to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • On every level of your home, including the basement.
  • Outside of bedrooms, within 21 feet of each bedroom door.
  • Inside bedrooms, if required by the State Building Code at the time of construction or remodel. Installing alarms inside each bedroom provides extra protection and has been required in new construction since 1996. ​

*Some local ordinances have additional requirements - check with your local building codes department.

Yes – smoke alarms should not be installed:

  • In kitchens, bathrooms, garages, attics and unheated areas, because moisture, steam, frost, cooking vapors and exhaust fumes could cause a nuisance alarm.

    If you must install an alarm near a kitchen or bathroom, choose a photoelectric alarm and make sure it is 10 feet from a cooking appliance. Consider replacing your existing alarm with a new multi-criteria alarm that helps reduce cooking nuisance alarms. 

Smoke alarms are an important part of your family's fire safety plan.​

Make a home escape plan. Draw a map of each level of your home.   Go into each room and find two ways out.

Be mindful of children, older adults and people with disabilities who may need assistance to wake up and get out. Make sure your plan includes someone to help.

Have an outside meeting place. This should be something permanent, like a tree, light pole, or mailbox. Make sure it is in front of your home, at a safe distance, where firefighters can find you quickly.

Make sure everyone in your home knows how to call 9-1-1 from a mobile phone or a trusted neighbor's phone.

Practice your plan at least twice a year, with everyone in your household. Make sure everyone knows the sound of the smoke alarm, and what to do when they hear it.​

If your smoke alarm sounds and you see smoke, GET OUT AND STAY OUT! Go to your outside meeting place and call 9-1-1.

  • Before you open a door, feel the doorknob and then the door. If either is hot, or you see smoke coming in from around the door, leave it closed and use your second way out.
  • If you open a door, open it slowly, and be ready to shut it if heavy smoke or fire is present.
  • If there is smoke blocking your way out, use a second way outside.
  • If you must escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to get outside.
  • If you cannot get outside, close the door and cover vents and the cracks around the door to keep smoke out. Call 9-1-1, and tell them which room you are in. Signal for help at a window.
  • If pets are trapped inside your home, tell firefighters right away. 

Never, ever go back inside a burning building!​

Oregon law requires landlords to provide working smoke alarms in rental dwellings. If you rent and do not have working smoke alarms, contact your landlord or property manager. 

Tenants are responsible for testing the alarms at least every 6 months and replacing the batteries if needed.

If a smoke alarm is not working properly, it is your responsibility to tell your landlord so they can fix or replace it.

Never disconnect or remove alarm batteries, except to change them. Tenants should never remove or tamper with an alarm in a rental property – if you do, you may be charged up to $250.​


Return to top

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Alarms: Frequently Asked Questions

Click through the accordion below to read about the most commonly asked questions.

A CO alarm detects CO and produces an audible alert when CO is detected. It may be a stand-alone unit or part of an alarm system. 

CO alarm: Activated by CO; Smoke/CO alarm: Activated by smoke or CO; and Gas or Explosive Gas/CO alarm: Activated by CO, propane, or natural/methane gas.

CO alarms must be battery-operated or receive their primary power source from the building wiring with a battery backup. Plug-in devices must have a battery backup. 

A heater, fireplace, appliance (furnace, dryer, or water heater), or cooking source (stove, oven) that uses coal, kerosene, petroleum products, wood, or other fuels (oil or natural gas) that emit CO as a by-product of combustion; or an attached garage with an opening that communicates directly with a living space. 

Install CO alarms on each level of your home with bedrooms (sleeping areas).

A CO alarm must be located within each bedroom or within 15 feet outside of each bedroom door. Bedrooms on separate floors in a structure containing two or more stories require separate CO alarms.

All CO alarms must be installed following the manufacturer's recommended instructions. 

*Required when selling or renting a home.

No. A carbon monoxide alarm must be located within each bedroom or within 15 feet outside of each bedroom door. (OAR 837-047-0130)

The ductwork from CO sources often goes directly to bedrooms, bypassing the hallways outside them. For best protection, CO alarms are recommended in bedrooms and hallways.

Yes. You may replace a hardwired smoke alarm with a hardwired battery backup combination CO/smoke alarm.

Switching from one manufacturer’s unit to another may require a power adapter plug.

Manufacturers advise that adapter plugs may be changed using wire nuts and may require the services of a licensed electrician.

No. They are required on each level with bedrooms (sleeping areas). 

CO alarms should be replaced when the end-of-life signal is activated, the manufacturer’s replacement date is reached, or when they fail to respond to operability tests. 

Test alarms monthly. CO alarms must be maintained, tested, and batteries replaced according to the manufacturer’s recommended instructions. 

Smoke Alarm Information for Real Estate Agents, Home Sellers, & Buyers

Are smoke alarms required, and where should they be installed, when selling a home?

Yes, there must be smoke alarms in any property that includes a home or lodging space. Also, if someone is selling or transferring a home or lodging space under a land sale contract, they must ensure smoke alarms are installed according to state building codes and state fire marshal regulations. (ORS 479.260)

There must be a smoke alarm inside each bedroom or sleeping area and in the area outside the bedrooms, like a hallway.

If bedrooms are on an upper level, the smoke alarm must be installed in an accessible location as close as practical to the center of the ceiling directly over the stairway. Where sleeping areas are widely separated (i.e., on different levels or opposite ends of the dwelling unit) and/or where a single smoke alarm will not be enough for all sleeping areas, a smoke alarm should be installed adjacent to each sleeping area. (OAR 837-045-0050)

  • Outside bedrooms within 21 feet of all bedroom doors.
  • On each level of the home (including the basement).
  • In bedrooms, if required by building codes at the time of construction.
  • All smoke alarms are to be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

For more information, please see the smoke alarm law overview flyer.

Return to top

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Alarm Information for Real Estate Agents, Home Sellers, & Buyers

Are CO alarms required when selling a home?

If a home has a carbon monoxide source, CO alarms are required before it can be sold. Effective April 1, 2011, sellers of one- and two-family homes, manufactured homes, or multifamily housing containing a CO source must have one or more properly functioning CO alarms before the buildings can be sold. Homes built during or after 2011 require a CO alarm regardless of the presence of a CO source. (OAR 837-047-0120)

Are CO alarms required in new home construction or remodels?

Yes. The CO alarm requirements for new construction, reconstruction, alteration, and repair are applicable regardless of the presence of a CO source.

Can I have battery-operated CO alarms in new construction?

Yes. Section R315.4.1 of the 2011 ORSC states, “Single station CO alarms shall be battery operated or may receive their primary power from the building wiring system.” If a homeowner chooses to install the electrical plug-in type, they must have a battery backup feature.

More info: carbon monoxide alarm law overview flyer

Return to top

Smoke Alarm Information for Property Management, Landlord, & Tenants

Are smoke alarms required in rental dwelling units?

Yes. The owner of a rental unit or the owner’s authorized agent is responsible for supplying, installing, and maintaining the required smoke alarms and a written notice with instructions for testing the alarms. The notice shall be given to the tenant when the tenant first takes possession of the premises. (ORS 479.270)

If a smoke alarm is battery-operated or has a battery backup system, the landlord should supply working batteries for the alarm at the beginning of a new tenancy.

What are my obligations as a tenant?

It is the tenant's responsibility to test smoke alarms (located in a part of the dwelling unit that the tenant is entitled to occupy to the exclusion of others) as recommended by the manufacturer’s instructions and immediately notify, in writing, the owner or authorized agent of any deficiencies. Testing intervals shall not exceed six months. It shall also be the tenant's responsibility during the tenancy to replace any dead batteries, as needed.

A tenant must test at least once every six months, replace batteries as needed in any smoke alarm provided by the landlord, and notify the landlord in writing of any operating deficiencies. (ORS 479.275)

A tenant may not remove or tamper with a smoke alarm. Tampering includes the removal of working batteries. (ORS 479.300)

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Alarm Information for Property Management, Landlord, and Tenants

Are CO alarms required in rental dwelling units?

If you have a CO source, CO alarms are required in rental dwelling units. Effective April 1, 2011, landlords must provide properly functioning CO alarms for one- and two-family dwellings or multifamily housing containing a CO source. The landlord shall provide a new tenant with alarm testing instructions. If a CO alarm is battery-operated or has a battery-operated backup system, the landlord shall supply working batteries for the alarm at the beginning of a new tenancy. (OAR 837-047-0120, 0160)

What are my obligations as a tenant?

A tenant must test, at least once every six months, and replace batteries as needed in any CO alarm provided by the landlord and must notify the landlord in writing of any operating deficiencies. (OAR 837-047-0160)

A tenant may not remove or tamper with a CO alarm. Tampering includes the removal of working batteries. (OAR 837-047-0170)

What if I am renting and have a CO source, and my landlord has not provided a working CO alarm?

A tenant must notify the landlord in writing of any operating deficiencies. (837-047-0160)

If the landlord receives written notice from the tenant of a deficiency in a CO alarm, other than dead batteries, the landlord shall repair or replace the alarm. (ORS 90.317)

Return to top

Smoke Alarms for People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing