Smoke Detector Program
The Stockton Fire Department would like to see every home in our community equipped with a working smoke detector. If you do not have a smoke detector and cannot afford one, or if you have a smoke detector, but it does not work, members of the Stockton Fire Department will come to your home and ensure that you have a working smoke detector - absolutely free of charge.
Every Home Needs a Working Smoke Detector
Everyone knows how important an alarm clock is, right? After all, virtually everyone has one in their home. But the latest report from the National Fire Protection Association indicated that 70% of all home fire fatalities occur in homes where there are no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. In half of the reported fires where there were no working smoke alarms, batteries were missing or disconnected, and batteries were dead in 15% of these incidents.
Some people say..."I don't need a smoke detector. If there is a fire in the middle of the night, I'll smell the smoke and wake up." WRONG! When you go to sleep your sense of smell goes to sleep with you and unless the smoke is very acrid and irritates your nostrils as you breathe, you may not wake up at all.
Smoke created by fire contains a deadly gas called carbon monoxide. This deadly gas is odorless and colorless, you can't see it, taste it or smell it. As you breathe, it puts you into a deeper sleep. It can kill you before you know it.
Although we like to feel safe at home, most fatal fires occur at night when people are sleeping. Most deaths occur from inhaling smoke or poisonous gases, not from flames. A smoke detector can alert you when there is a fire, in time to save your life. Remember that the smoke alarm sounds only the warning. Develop and practice an escape plan to be sure that all members in your household can safely get out of a fire.
Smoke Detector Frequently Asked Questions
- Q: Why smoke detectors? Why not heat detectors?
- A: Smoke and deadly gases tend to spread faster and farther than heat which is why an operating smoke detector is so important to have. More people die from the effects of smoke and deadly gases by a margin of 2 to 1. A smoke detector will automatically sound a warning when it senses smoke or other products of combustion. When people are warned early enough about a fire, they can escape before it spreads.
- Q: How many smoke detectors should I have?
- A: At least one smoke detector in every bedroom and one outside in the hallway. Also you should install one detector on each level of the home, if you have a second floor or basement.
- Q: Where is the proper location for the smoke detectors?
- A: Generally on the ceiling at least 4 inches out from the wall. If you must install them on the wall, install them at least 4 inches down from the ceiling but no lower than 12 inches from the ceiling. Keep them high because smoke rises. Place smoke detectors at the top of each stairwell and at the end of each long hallway. Remember, do not place them any closer than 3 feet of an air supply register that might recirculate smoke resulting in a delayed alarm. Be sure to keep the detector away from fireplaces and wood stoves to avoid false alarms.
- Q: How are smoke detectors powered?
- A: Some smoke detectors are powered by a 9-volt battery, some are powered by the home's electrical system, and some are the combination of both. That is, they are wired into the home's electrical system and equipped with a 9-volt battery back-up.
- Q: Who should install my smoke detector?
- A: If you elect to purchase smoke detectors that are to be connected to your home's electrical system, you should have a qualified electrician install them. If you purchase those that are solely battery powered, you can install them yourself with a screwdriver and a drill, but install them according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Q: What about maintenance?
- A: Keeping smoke detectors in good condition is easy. Change the battery (if equipped) at least twice a year or sooner if the smoke detector signals a low battery. Daylight Saving Time serves as a good reminder, when you change your clocks, change your batteries. Clean the detector face and screen to remove dust. Test your smoke detector at least weekly. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions.
- Q: After they are installed, then what?
- A: Test the smoke alarms every month and make sure they work. Everyone in your household should be aware of what they sound like and know what to do if they hear that noise.
- Q: How do I test my smoke detector?
- A: Push the test button or test them with smoke. If you test them with smoke, use a match or candle. Blow out the flame and let the smoke drift up into the smoke detector. Never test the smoke detector with a flame!
- Q: What is that chirping noise?
- A: That noise, usually every 60 seconds or so, is indicative of a battery that is going dead. This signals you to change the battery as soon as possible. That signal may last for a couple of days, but once the battery is dead you will have no protection at all.
- Q: How do I prevent that annoying false alarm?
- A: If you are getting false alarms, try moving your smoke detector farther from the kitchen or bathroom area and closer to the bedroom area. There are smoke detectors on the market that are specifically designed for kitchen or bathroom area use. Regular smoke detectors are too sensitive for these areas and cause annoying false alarms.
If you have additional questions about smoke detectors, please contact the Fire Prevention Division.
This City of Stockton webpage last reviewed on --- 3/21/2011