New Rules for Smoke Alarms Affect Homes Built Before 1977

By JULIET KASZAS-HOCH | May 29, 2019

Trenton — Thinking of renting or selling a home? Take note: a new smoke alarm regulation, effective earlier this year, requires 10-year sealed battery smoke detectors be installed in homes constructed before Jan. 1, 1977. One- and two-family dwellings need to comply with this rule prior to sale or change of occupancy.

The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’ Division of Fire Safety notes that the new smoke alarm requirement includes motel rooms and housing units in rooming houses in addition to one- and two-family residences. The state’s Uniform Construction Code requires all homes built after Jan. 1, 1977 to have alternating current hardwired alarms installed inside the dwellings, and those homes are not affected by the new regulation.

“The importance of working smoke alarms cannot be overstated,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Y. Oliver, who also serves as DCA commissioner. “They are essential for quickly detecting a fire and providing an early warning to occupants to allow them to safely escape. The key to early detection is having functioning smoke alarms and the 10-year sealed batteries will help keep them reliably working longer to prevent injury and save more lives.”

According to the DCA, the most common reason a smoke alarm stops functioning is the lack of a working battery. “Often, the battery is removed so it can be used somewhere else or the battery no longer has the necessary charge,” the department explaned. “Batteries are also removed to prevent nuisance alarms from cooking. For this reason, DCA’s Division of Fire Safety proposed and adopted regulations that require the use of 10-year sealed battery type smoke alarms. This technology precludes an individual from removing the battery, thus maintaining a working alarm. Also, the 10-year sealed battery smoke alarms are designed to last 10 years and be replaced. Utilizing this new technology to ensure a working smoke alarm will go a long way to reducing fire injuries and deaths.”

Local fire inspectors will check for these new alarms during routine annual inspections in motels and rooming houses. Regardless of the age or condition of smoke alarms currently installed, all affected alarms must be replaced with 10-year sealed battery smoke alarms. Violation notices will be issued to property owners where the 10-year sealed battery smoke alarms are not installed. Local fire officials and property owners are encouraged to work together to establish a reasonable timetable for compliance.

According to the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office website, the fire marshal’s office is responsible for the local fire code enforcement for 11 Ocean County municipalities, including Long Beach Island’s six municipalities: Barnegat Light, Beach Haven, Harvey Cedars, Long Beach Township, Ship Bottom and Surf City.

The new N.J. Uniform Fire Code Requirements – N.J.A.C. 5:70-4.19 – and an application for Smoke Alarm, Carbon Monoxide Alarm, and Portable Fire Extinguisher Compliance (CSACMAPFEC) inspections can be found at co.ocean.nj.us/OCsherif/FireMarshalCP.aspx. A certificate of CSACMAPFEC compliance is valid for a period of 12 months from the date of inspection.

Contact the county fire marshal’s office at 732-929-2088 or OCFMSmokeDetect@co.ocean.nj.us for more information.

The new rules do not apply to low-voltage alarm systems, alternating current hardwired alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. Combination carbon monoxide alarm and smoke alarm single station devices, however, are required to be of the 10-year sealed battery type.

Juliet Kaszas-Hoch

juliet@thesandpaper.net

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