A REFRESHER TO HELP UNDERSTAND THE CURRENT SMOKE DETECTOR LAWS
We’ve seen a lot of confusion about smoke detector laws in the past half-decade. The State of California, as well as the Apartment Owners Association, have both put out documents to clarify their initial statements regarding these regulations. We thought we might help clear things up by providing this point-by-point explanation. The most important take-away: make sure your property complies. Failing to follow these rules can make a building unsafe and make landlords extremely vulnerable to liability in the case of a fire.
1. Detectors need to be approved by the State Fire Marshall, and only those containing the 3 below elements comply.
(1) Display the date of manufacture.
(2) Have a place to display the date of its installation.
(3) Have a built-in hush feature.
See, not rocket science! If you’re buying at a reputable store, they will only carry approved devices. So #1 is easy. (Don’t buy online from China – it’s like buying in an alley out of someone’s trunk!)
2. Start switching out all your detectors so that you have a smoke detector with a 10-year tamper-proof battery installed in each bedroom as well as the hallway outside the bedroom.
Carbon monoxide detectors are not subject to the ten year battery requirement. Not sure about needing it in every bedroom and hallway? Google California’s Building Code §310.9 . It’s not just a suggestion, it’s the law!
3. Be sure to test and maintain your alarms.
You can’t let a tenant to take possession of a unit until you have tested the alarm. No problem. As part of your standard move-in checklist & procedures, test the alarm in front of the tenant, and have them sign off that it works. Press the button, pierce the eardrum, and voila. You’re done.
4. Take pictures of the installation date, after writing it with a sharpie, on the blank place on the exterior of the alarm that says “Installation date.”
Yep, the new ones have this space so you can write in the date you put up the alarm, and you need to fill it out. Do this for every alarm in the unit, and you’re definitely being a shrewd landlord. Top notch management companies will do this for you, and provide you with pictures of all alarms. Want to shrink your liability exposure? Follow this advice, and label every picture the address of the unit.
This is not meant to be an exhaustive analysis on smoke detector compliance. I’m not a lawyer. But here’s a link to someone who is, and you can see his detailed analysis. Click on this link, or copy it into a new browser bar.