What Kind of Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Detectors do Landlords need to Provide?

what-kind-of-smoke-detectors

New Mass fire code effective December 1, 2016 requires landlords to update their units.

Landlords need to know what kind of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to install in their units. Remember that just because they were legal yesterday doesn’t mean they’re legal today! Here is part of the new Mass fire code effective December 1, 2016:

13.7.5.1.1 Nonrechargeable, Nonreplaceable Battery Power Alarms/Detectors
(1) Photoelectric technology shall be required for smoke alarms and detectors
(2) A silence button shall be required on each alarm and detector device within its control panel
(3) Each smoke alarm and detector device shall be equipped with a nonrechargeable battery
(4) Each smoke alarm and detector device shall be equipped with a nonreplaceable battery
(5) All power requirements for all smoke alarms and detectors are met for at least 10 years of
battery life, including weekly testing.
(6) All power requirements for combination alarms with smoke/carbon monoxide shall be
capable of powering the unit for its service life, including testing.

In plain English: anywhere you have smoke detectors or a carbon monoxide detector, they must have a 10-year permanent battery. Also, note that ionization smoke detectors are no longer counted. Smoke detectors must use “photoelectric technology.”

On the one hand, this is bad news, because photoelectric smoke detectors are expensive, and the sudden change in Mass fire code might mean they’re going to be expensive for a while.

On the other hand, ten year batteries are good for landlords. How many times have we cleaned up after a tenant move-out only to find one or all of the smoke detectors batteryless and thrown into a closet? Chirping detectors are an annoyance, especially in the middle of the night.  Ten year batteries help us all stay a little safer with a little less work and nuisance.

So pay attention to the new Mass fire code for smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors! The lives of your customers depend on it!

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3 Responses to What Kind of Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Detectors do Landlords need to Provide?

  1. Eric A says:

    Your article is a bit misleading and I think you are missing some information here.

    Some of these changes only apply when a home is sold or to a 1-2 family home. Please do some basic research before posting an article.

    • Alexis Gee says:

      Eric,

      Thank you for commenting. Can you elaborate on why our post is misleading?
      Just so you’re aware, this article is meant to bring the change to the attention of landlords and property managers, not to give a full run down of the fire code. We direct readers to Mass.gov for full elaboration on the changes in the code.
      I hope this helps to clear things up for you.

    • Doug Quattrochi says:

      Eric,

      I believe we have correctly reported this change in the requirement, and that media stories describing the change as applicable only to sales of 1- and 2- families were incorrect.

      Through establish case law, landlords issue a “warranty of habitability” that require us to follow the state sanitary code at all times. It reads:

      410.482: Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
      (A) Owners shall provide, install, and maintain in operable condition smoke detectors and carbon monoxide
      alarms in every dwelling that is required to be equipped with smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms in
      accordance with any provision of the Massachusetts General Laws and any applicable regulations of the State
      Board of Fire Prevention (527 CMR).

      The MA fire code (527 CMR) reads, “First see the NFPA Code”, which reads:

      13.7.1 General
      13.7.1.1 Where building fire alarm systems or automatic fire detectors are required by other sections of this Code, they shall be provided and installed in accordance with Section 13.7.

      And MA regulation modifies the NFPA code as follows:

      13.7.5 Primary Power Source
      13.7.5.1 Smoke alarms/detectors, and carbon monoxide alarms shall be permitted to have battery
      power as a primary source unless otherwise prohibited by applicable laws, codes, or standards.
      13.7.5.1.1 Nonrechargeable, Nonreplaceable Battery Power Alarms/Detectors
      (1) Photoelectric technology shall be required for smoke alarms and detectors
      (2) A silence button shall be required on each alarm and detector device within its control panel
      (3) Each smoke alarm and detector device shall be equipped with a nonrechargeable battery
      (4) Each smoke alarm and detector device shall be equipped with a nonreplaceable battery
      (5) All power requirements for all smoke alarms and detectors are met for at least 10 years of
      battery life, including weekly testing.

      If you can cite higher-level headers in the NFPA code that show this language applies only to sale or transfer, we will amend this article. You can review it yourself by following the instructions/links here:

      http://www.mass.gov/courts/case-legal-res/law-lib/laws-by-source/cmr/500-599cmr/527cmr.html

      In all seriousness, if we got it wrong, cite chapter and verse! We want to know.

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