Smoke alarms

Smoke alarm

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.

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 alarms, 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!

Troubleshooting

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 home safety assessment - and report a bleeping smoke alarm

Buying a new smoke alarm - what type of smoke alarm should I choose?

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 EN14604: 2005 and carry the well-known Kitemark.

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.

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.

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 information on deafness and hearing loss please contact RNID on 0808 808 0123 or textphone 0808 808 9000 or visit the Action on Hearing Loss website:

Action on Hearing Loss website (open in new window)

Shop on the Action on Hearing Loss website (opens in new window)

Video

Former firefighter David Petley describes his experience of real life incidents and how smoke alarms save lives.

Smoke Alarms Save Lives!

How safe is your home?

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)

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 incorporate the traditional fire safety information (and smoke alarm fitting), but also offer additional advice on slips, trips, fall prevention and bowel cancer screening.

Book a Safe and Well Visit for over 65's



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