New Smoke Detector Regulations Take Effect on December 1

If you’re thinking about selling your home in the near future, take notice: the state law requiring you to have working smoke detectors in your home at the time of sale is about to change.

Effective December 1, 2016, the Massachusetts State Fire Marshal will require single- and two-family homes built before 1975 to have working smoke detectors that are properly installed, less than ten years old, and that have a sealed, non-replaceable, non-rechargeable battery inside. Among other updated rules, smoke detectors also must be photoelectric (or a combination photoelectric with ionization technology) and must have a hush button feature to silence nuisance alarms.

As always, homeowners selling property need to have a certificate of compliance from the local fire department before they sell their home. And with the new rules, homeowners need to know that older ionization sensor alarms that have a replaceable nine-volt battery – which are commonly sold at many home improvement stores and found inside many homes – won’t be enough to comply with state requirements.

The changes are being instituted in part because of evidence that several recent deadly fires in Massachusetts took place in homes that had smoke detectors that were not operational at the time of the fire.

“Last winter too many people died in homes without working smoke alarms,” said Peter Ostroskey, the State Fire Marshal. “No one thinks fire will happen to them, but a majority of fire deaths occur in homes without working alarms. Alarms that are easier to keep in good working order, should reduce the reasons people disable them.”

The rules themselves are comprehensive, so homeowners should be careful to read the requirements carefully to ensure full compliance. For more information, please click here (and make sure you check for the updated regulations to be posted after Dec. 1.). Also, be sure to check with your local fire department to see if there are more rigorous local rules in place and to find out how far in advance you need to schedule an inspection if you’re selling property.