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To kick off National Fire Prevention Week, the Chicago Fire Department and the Chicago Department of Buildings remind residents to know how old their smoke alarms are, and to replace them every 10 years. The “Don’t Wait - Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years” campaign is sponsored by the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) in response to research showing most American homes have at least one smoke alarm, but only a small percentage of people know how old their smoke alarms are or how often they need to be replaced.
“Smoke alarm awareness is important – these life-saving devices don’t last forever,” Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago said. “Time and again, we see the life-saving impact smoke alarms can have in a home fire, but we also see the tragedy that can result when smoke alarms aren’t working properly.”
NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm Code®, requires smoke alarms be replaced at least every 10 years, but because the public is often unaware of this requirement, many homes have smoke alarms past their expiration date, putting people at increased risk.
“The Department of Buildings takes the lack of working smoke alarms very seriously,” Building Commissioner Judy Frydland said. “It is the first thing we check for in a building inspection and we hold building owners and landlords accountable until they are installed or replaced.”
Since January 1, 2014, the Department of Buildings issued more than 4,300 smoke alarm violations, 1,491 in 2014, 1,852 in 2015 and 998 to-date in 2016.
To find out how old your smoke alarm is and its expiration date, simply look on the back of the alarm where the date of manufacture is marked. The smoke alarm should be replaced 10 years from that date. The Chicago Fire Department also says smoke alarms should be tested monthly, and that batteries should be replaced twice a year when the time changes or when they begin to chirp, signaling that they’re running low.
Fire Prevention Week is October 9-15, 2016. For more information on smoke alarms and this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Don’t Wait: Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years,” visit www.firepreventionweek.org.