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Fire, Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Why should my home have smoke alarms?
You are more likely to survive a home fire if you have a working smoke alarm. During a fire, you may have less than three minutes to escape. Smoke spreads fast, and smoke alarms alert you to the danger and give you time to get out.
What is the difference between a smoke alarm and a smoke detector?
A smoke alarm is a self-contained, single or multiple-station smoke-sensing device. A smoke alarm detects and alarms. A smoke detector is a smoke-sensing device that is not self-contained and operates as part of a central control system. A smoke detector detects smoke and sends the information to an alarm panel. (ORS 479.250)
What types of smoke alarms are available?
Ionization, photoelectric, dual-sensing (ionization/photoelectric), and combination smoke/carbon monoxide alarms.
What is the difference between ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms?
Ionization smoke alarms are quicker at sensing flaming, fast-moving fires. Photoelectric smoke alarms are quicker at sensing smoldering fires. Both types are recommended for protection from both types of fires.
Where do I install smoke alarms?
Smoke alarms in dwelling units shall be installed in each sleeping room as per the applicable requirements of the State Building Code at the time of construction and in the corridor or area giving access to sleeping areas according to the manufacturer's instructions*.
Where sleeping areas are located on an upper level, the smoke alarm or smoke detector shall 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 or smoke detector will not adequately service all sleeping areas, a smoke alarm or smoke detector shall 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 the State Building Code at the time of construction.
  • All smoke alarms are to be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
*Please note: required when selling or renting a home.
Are smoke alarms required on every level?
Yes. Smoke alarms are required on each level of the home (including the basement).
Are smoke alarms required in all bedrooms? **
Smoke alarms in dwelling units shall be installed in each sleeping room as per the applicable requirements of the State Building Code at the time of construction. The OSFM recommends adding smoke alarms to each bedroom or other areas used for sleeping for increased protection.
**Please note: Some local ordinances have additional requirements. Check with your local building department. See the Building Department Lookup tool in Resources on this page.
Where should smoke alarms not be installed?
Smoke alarms should not be installed in kitchens, bathrooms, garages, and unheated areas where moisture, steam, frost, cooking vapors, and exhaust fumes could cause a nuisance alarm.
Should a smoke alarm be installed in the kitchen?
No. If you install smoke alarms in the kitchen, install them at least 10 feet away from cooking appliances. They should be equipped with a hush feature, or they should be photoelectric smoke alarms. (NFPA 72)
How often do I replace my smoke alarm?
Smoke alarms should be replaced according to the National Fire Protection Association, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code (72-14.4.7) Replacement of Smoke Alarms in One and Two-Family Dwellings:
“Unless otherwise recommended by the manufacturer’s published instructions, single and multiple station smoke alarms installed in one- and two-family dwellings shall be replaced when they fail to respond to operability tests, but shall not remain in service longer than 10 years from the date of manufacture.” (NFPA 72)
Can I replace a hard-wired smoke alarm with a smoke/carbon monoxide (CO) alarm?
Yes. You may replace a hard-wired smoke alarm with a hard-wired with battery back-up smoke/CO alarm.
  • Switching from one manufacturer’s unit to another may require an adapter plug.
  • Manufacturers advise adapter plugs may be changed using wire nuts, and may require the services of a licensed electrician.
Are 10-year batteries and a hush feature required in smoke alarms in Oregon?
All ionization smoke alarms sold in this state that are solely battery operated shall be packaged with a 10-year battery. All ionization smoke alarms sold in this state shall include a hush mechanism that allows a person to temporarily disengage the alarm for a period of not more than 15 minutes. (ORS 479.297)
"Ten-year smoke alarm battery" means a battery power source that is warranted by the battery manufacturer to be free from defects in materials and workmanship for a period of at least ten (10) years when used in an ionization smoke alarm that: is listed by a nationally recognized testing laboratory; and has been approved by the nationally recognized testing laboratory for use with a ten-year battery. (OAR 837-045-0040) Photoelectric, combination (ionization/photoelectric), smoke/carbon monoxide, and hardwired alarms do not require a 10-year (long-life) battery or a hush feature, but are available for sale in Oregon.
How do I test my smoke alarm?
Test smoke alarms by pushing the test button.
What should I do when the smoke alarm sounds?
Get outside and stay outside. Get down and crawl low under the smoke to your way out. Call 911 or your local emergency number for help. Never go back inside for people, pets, or belongings.
What do I do if my smoke alarm sounds and it is a nuisance alarm?
Many smoke alarms come with a hush feature, a button on the alarm that you push to silence nuisance alarms for up to 15 minutes.
Please note: Nuisance alarms can be caused by steam from showers or smoke from cooking.
Are smoke alarms required, and where should they be installed, when selling a home?
Yes, they are required. A person may not convey fee title to any real property that includes a dwelling unit or lodging house, or transfer possession of any dwelling unit or lodging house pursuant to a land sale contract, unless there is installed in the dwelling unit or lodging house a smoke detector or the required number of approved smoke alarms, installed in accordance with the State Building Code and Rules of the State Fire Marshal. (ORS 479.260)
Smoke alarms and smoke detectors in dwelling units shall be installed in each sleeping room as per the applicable requirements of the State Building Code at the time of construction and in the corridor or area giving access to sleeping areas according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Where sleeping areas are located on an upper level, the smoke alarm or smoke detector shall 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 or smoke detector will not adequately service all sleeping areas, a smoke alarm or smoke detector shall 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 State Building Code at the time of construction.
  • All smoke alarms are to be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
    Are smoke alarms required in rental dwelling units?
    Yes. The owner of any rental dwelling unit or the owner’s authorized agent shall be responsible for supplying, installing, and maintaining the required smoke alarms or smoke detectors and shall provide a written notice containing instructions for testing of the devices. The notice shall be given to the tenant at the time the tenant first takes possession of the premises. (ORS 479.270)
    If a smoke 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.
    What are my obligations as a tenant?
    It shall be the responsibility of the tenant of any rental dwelling unit to perform such tests on the smoke alarms or smoke detectors (located in a part of the dwelling unit that the tenant is entitled to occupy to the exclusion of others) as are 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 responsibility of the tenant during the tenancy to replace any dead batteries, as needed.
    A tenant must test, at least once every six months, and 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 removal of working batteries. (ORS 479.300)
    What is a CO alarm?
    A CO alarm detects CO and produces a distinctive audible alert when CO is detected. It may be a stand-alone unit or part of an alarm system. (OAR 837-047-0110)
    What types of CO alarms are available?
    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. (OAR 837-047-0140)
    What is a CO source?
    A heater, fireplace, appliance (e.g., furnace, dryer, or water heater), or cooking source (e.g.., stove, oven) that uses coal, kerosene, petroleum products, wood, or other fuels (e.g., 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. (OAR 837-047-0110)
    Where do I install CO alarms?*
    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 in accordance with the manufacturer's recommended instructions. (OAR 837-047-0130)
    *Please note: This is required when selling or renting a home.
    Are CO alarms required in bedrooms?
    No. A carbon monoxide alarm must be located within each bedroom or within 15 feet outside of each bedroom door. (OAR 837-047-0130)
    Ductwork from CO sources often goes directly to bedrooms, bypassing the hallways outside of them. For best protection, CO alarms are recommended in bedrooms and in the hallway.
    May I replace a hard-wired smoke alarm with a combination CO /smoke alarm?
    Yes. You may replace a hardwired smoke alarm with a hardwired with battery back-up 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.
    Are CO alarms required on every level?
    No. They are required on each level with bedrooms (sleeping areas). (OAR 837-047-130)
    How often do I replace my CO alarm?
    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. (NFPA 720)
    How do I keep my CO alarm working?
    Test alarms monthly. CO alarms must be maintained, tested, and batteries replaced according to the manufacturer’s recommended instructions. (OAR 837-047-0150)
    What should I do when the CO alarm sounds?
    Get outside to fresh air and call 911 or your local emergency number for help. If anyone is experiencing the symptoms of CO poisoning, get medical attention immediately.
    Are CO alarms required when selling a home?
    If a home has a CO source, CO alarms are required before it can be sold. Effective April 1, 2011, sellers of one- and two-family dwellings, manufactured dwellings, or multifamily housing containing a CO source must have one or more properly functioning CO alarms before conveying fee title or transferring possession of a dwelling. 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. (Oregon Residential Specialty Code, Carbon Monoxide Alarms)
    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, those CO alarms need to have a battery backup feature.
    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 do I do 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)

    Low Frequency Smoke Alarm
    A typical smoke alarm makes a high-pitched, piercing sound; however, for many people with hearing loss, this sound is beyond their hearing range. The low frequency smoke alarm is designed for people with high frequency or high pitch hearing loss. It provides a loud, low frequency tone which is much easier for people with hearing loss to hear.

    Strobe Smoke Alarm
    This type of alarm has both a visual and an audible smoke alarm. The smoke alarm may be hard wired with a battery backup to maintain the audible alarm, or may be stand alone, battery powered, or may plug in to an electrical outlet. These alarms use a flashing strobe light to provide a visual alarm as well as an audible alarm.

    Smoke Alarm with Bed Shaker
    A low frequency (audible), light or text (visual), and shaker (tactile) smoke alarm system. This type of alarm plugs in to an electrical outlet, and the shaker is placed under the pillow or mattress. It shakes when activated, produces an audible, low frequency alarm, and some models can also visually signal users of activation.

     
    ​Contact

    Fire & Life Safety Education
    3565 Trelstad Ave SE
    Salem, OR 97317
    Phone: 503-934-8228
    osfm.ce@state.or.us

    Consumer and Business Services
    Building Codes Division
    Building Department Lookup
    Phone: 503-378-4133
    bcd.info@oregon.gov

    Smoke Alarm Installation Resources
    If you don't have working smoke alarms, contact your local fire agency or the American Red Cross at preparedness@redcross.org or
    503-528-5783
    541-842-4717 (Medford area)
    541-749-4144 (Bend area)

    Smoke Alarm Installation Program for Fire Agencies

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