Smoke alarms save lives.
Buying and fitting smoke alarms could help you to save your home and the lives of your family.
A smoke alarm (also known as a smoke detector) is a device that detects fire in its early stages and gives a loud audible warning.
Buying a new smoke alarm
There are currently two types of smoke alarms on the market - ionisation and optical (also described as photoelectric or photoelectronic).
Ionisation alarms - Costing from under £5 these are by far the cheapest smoke alarms you can buy, but this does not mean they are in anyway less effective. They are marginally less sensitive to slow burning and smouldering fires that give off larger quantities of smoke before flaming, but will detect flaming fires such as chip pans quickly before the smoke gets too thick.
Optical alarms - These are more expensive but more effective at detecting larger particles of smoke that are given off by slow burning fires, such as smouldering foam filled upholstery and overheated PVC wiring.
Each type looks similar and is powered by battery, mains electricity or both.
When deciding on which type of smoke alarms to buy you should consider which type of fire is more likely to occur in your home. However, the best protection would be to fit both and make sure that they have a continuous power supply such as mains power with a back-up battery.
Any smoke alarm that you buy should meet British Standard BS 5446 part 1 and carry the well-known Kitemark.
How and where to fit your smoke alarms
For maximum protection a smoke alarms should be fitted in every room of your house except the bathroom, kitchen and garage.
For minimum protection at least one alarm should be fitted on each level of your house.
Smoke alarms are simply screwed into the ceiling and should normally be fitted at least 30 centimetres (12 inches) away from any wall or light fitting and as close to the centre of the room, hallway or landing as possible. Always read the manufacturers instructions before fitting.
Looking after your smoke alarms
Your smoke alarms needs regular maintenance:
Once a year replace the battery
Once a month check the alarm by pressing the test button
Once a year vacuum and wipe the smoke alarm casing to ensure dust isn't blocking the sensor chamber
If the alarm is mains powered, switch it off first. Whatever happens, never remove the battery to use for other purposes
Remember, it's a lot easier to replace a dead battery!
Bleeping smoke alarms
If your smoke alarm is making an intermittent bleeping/chirping noise, please follow these steps:
Check that your smoke alarm is definitely the source of the bleeping/chirping; make sure the noise isn't coming from another alarm (smoke/carbon monoxide/gas/burglar alarm) by process of elimination
Clean the alarm as per the instructions above
Test the alarm by pressing the 'test' button
Change the battery (unless it's a ten-year alarm or a hard-wired alarm)
If the smoke alarm fails to operate or continues to chirp/bleep, please contact Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service by booking a home safety assessment by completing the following form:
Book a safe and well visit - and report a bleeping smoke alarm
Smoke alarms - landlords and tenants
New safety laws for landlords came into force on 1st October 2015. The new safety laws make it compulsory for all landlords to fit smoke alarms in rented homes, as well as offering protection against carbon monoxide poisoning.
The new safety laws make it compulsory for all landlords to:
Fit at least one smoke alarm on each floor of their premises
Fit a carbon monoxide alarm in rooms containing a solid fuel appliance
Check that all alarms are working when a new tenancy starts - with potential penalties of up to £5,000 if they don’t comply.
Landlords must check the alarms are working at the start of every new tenancy with potential penalties of up to £5,000 if they don't comply.
Tenants are required to check the alarms are in working order and notify the landlord if they identify any problems.
Smoke alarm kits for deaf and hard of hearing people
Conventional smoke alarms work by emitting a loud noise when smoke is detected, providing the vital early warning of fire, and therefore aiding escape. People who are deaf or hard of hearing need additional ways of making them aware the alarm has been activated, including vibrating pads and flashing strobe lights.
Deaf people need to place a vibrating pad under their mattress or pillow at night. If smoke is detected, the alarm will sound and set off the pad to assist in waking them.
British Standard BS5446-3:2005 specifies smoke alarm kits for deaf and hard of hearing people. Products made to this standard give deaf people assurance of quality smoke alarms designed to meet their needs.
For further information about BSI standard smoke alarms for deaf and hard of hearing people, please contact RNID Products on telephone 0870 789 8855, textphone 01733 238020 or visit:
Shop on the RNID web site (opens in new window)
For information on deafness and hearing loss please contact RNID on 0808 808 0123 or textphone 0808 808 9000 or visit the RNID web site:
RNID web site (open in new window)
Safe and Well Visit
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service offer a free 'Safe and Well Visit' for people who are aged over 65 and for people who are referred to us by partner agencies because they are considered to be at a particular risk.
Safe and Well Visits are available to Cheshire residents who are aged over 65. The visits will still incorporate the traditional fire safety information (and smoke alarm fitting), but will also offer additional advice on slips, trips and fall prevention; bowel cancer screening as well as offering additional support to those who wish to stop smoking, taking drugs or reduce their alcohol consumption.
Book a Safe and Well Visit for over 65's
Carry out your own home safety check
Complete a short questionnaire to assess fire safety in your home, and get a personalised fire safety plan - with advice on how to prevent fires in your home:
Download the Risk Rater app via the App Store - for iPhones and iPads (opens in new window)
Download the Risk Rater app via the Google Play Store - for android devices (opens in new window)