Property Management Blog

New Smoke Alarm Law

New Maryland Smoke Alarm Law Effective July 1, 2013

There is a new smoke detector law in Maryland as of July 1, 2013. Property managers and landlords should to be aware of the new requirement. Every property management company in Maryland and all landlords need to be fully compliant with the requirements of the new law.

First, any smoke detector over 10 years old must be replaced immediately. There is a manufacture date on the newer ones to help identify those. If there is no date, it is an older one and should now be replaced.

If you are replacing a battery-operated alarm or installing a smoke alarm where none was previously installed, you must use a new lithium 10-year battery smoke detector with a silence button. Hard-wired smoke detectors must be replaced with only hard-wired units, with battery backup.

Previously, homes constructed prior to July 1, 1975, were required to have one smoke detector at each sleeping area. Clustered bedrooms could be served by a single battery-operated smoke detector in the hallway outside the bedrooms.

Homes built between July 1, 1975, and June 30, 1990, were required to have a hard-wired (AC powered) smoke alarm with battery backup, again, at the sleeping areas as before.

Homes built after January 1, 1990, were also required to have one hard-wired smoke alarm on every level of the home, including basements, and to have them interconnected so when one alarm sounds, all alarms are activated.

New construction law now requires an AC-powered, battery backup smoke detector in each bedroom, in the hall outside bedrooms and on every level, including the basement, and that all of them be interconnected.

When must you replace your smoke detectors?

  • Now, if they are older than 10 years;
  • Anytime a smoke detector malfunctions or fails to respond (no new 9-volt batteries);
  • At a change in tenants;
  • When a building permit is issued for an addition or renovation;
  • Not later than January 1, 2018.

Replacement must be made with AC-powered, battery backup units, except you may use the new long-life battery units with hush features where no AC unit was previously installed.

The new law is applicable to homeowners and landlords. Property management companies need to be sure all their units are compliant and should give a clear direction to all their property managers.

The law aside, this is important because

  • In Maryland, 39 home fire fatalities have been reported from January to June, 2013.
  • In 2012, nearly half (46%) of Maryland fire fatalities occurred in homes without smoke alarms or with inoperable alarms.
  • Approximately 800,000 Maryland residences rely on battery-powered smoke alarms.
  • Two-thirds of all home fire deaths in America occur in homes with either no smoke alarm or no working alarm, mainly due to missing or disconnected batteries.

Sources: National Fire Protection Association, Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal, U.S. Census, Kelton Research

Post submitted by Josh McNally of Market Ready, Inc.