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Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms save lives, but only if they are properly installed and functioning.  Most fatalities happen in home without working smoke alarms.

Smoke Alarm Facts
Free Smoke Alarms for Qualified Home Owners
Smoke Alarms in Rental Property
U.S. Fire Administration - Install. Inspect. Protect.


The Seattle Fire Department recommends that you install at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home, including the basement. Even better is one in every bedroom. Smoke alarms are designed to wake you up if a fire starts while you are sleeping. Be sure your smoke alarms are near bedrooms and other sleeping areas in your home.

When was the last time you heard your smoke alarm? Battery-operated alarms should be tested once a month to make certain they are working.

Replace the batteries in your smoke alarm once a year. The Seattle Fire Department recommends you do this each fall when we change our clocks to end of Daylight Saving Time. Install a new battery immediately if an alarm “chirps” to indicate a low battery.

A ten-year lithium battery smoke alarm does not need to have its battery changed. Replace smoke alarms that use extended-life, lithium batteries when the alarm “chirps” or fails to respond to periodic testing. The batteries in these units cannot be replaced.

False Alarms
Use the hush button to silence a false alarm. Never disconnect or remove the battery. If your smoke alarm does not have a hush button use a magazine or kitchen towel to wave fresh air into the detection unit

Replace your smoke alarm every ten years. After ten years, your smoke detector will have been working consecutively for 87,000 hours. No other appliance in your home works this long. If you do not know how old your smoke alarm is, or if it is ten years or older, replace it as soon as possible.


Do you need smoke alarms in your home? You may qualify for free smoke alarms from the Seattle Fire Department if you meet the following criteria:

  • You live in the City of Seattle
  • You own and live in your home
  • You are living on a low income, are a senior citizen or are disabled

Seattle residents who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing may qualify for a free strobe smoke alarm.

If you fit these criteria and wish to request the installation of smoke alarms in your home, call the Seattle Fire Department at (206) 386-1337 or send us an E-Mail to learn more about this program.


Whether you live in a rented house or apartment, your landlord is required to provide you with a working smoke alarm. Tenants are responsible for maintaining the smoke alarm(s) in good working condition.

If your rental property does not have a smoke alarm, inform your landlord of this obligation. If you are having difficulty communicating with your landlord about this matter the following organizations may be of assistance:

  • The City of Seattle Housing and Zoning Enforcement Office -- (206) 684-7899
  • Dispute Resolution Center -- (206) 443-9603
  • The Tenant's Union -- (206) 723-0500 or (1-800) 752-9993
  • The State Attorney General's Consumer Line -- (1-800) 752-9993



Last Modified:   January 29, 2013

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