Smoke alarms are important life safety devices and as such must be maintained in operating condition at all times. Smoke alarms generally become inoperative when the power source (either battery or AC power supply) is disconnected. Disconnected power supply, missing batteries, dead batteries and improperly installed batteries are the most common reasons for smoke alarm failure during a fire emergency. This document has been prepared by the Office of the Fire Marshal to provide guidance to the general public, building owners and fire departments with respect to smoke alarm maintenance to ensure operability as required by the Fire Code.
This document provides information on the recommended maintenance schedule and procedures for testing of smoke alarms. The guideline also identifies the respective responsibilities of the landlord and tenants or occupants in rental residential units. A suggested maintenance checklist and tenant/occupant information sheet are included with the guideline.
This document has been prepared by the Office of the Fire Marshal to provide guidance to the general public, building owners and fire departments with respect to smoke alarm maintenance to ensure operability as required by the Fire Code.
Subsection 6.3.3. of the Fire Code requires that smoke alarms in all places of residence be maintained in operating condition. Section 1.1 of the Fire Code states that the “owner” is responsible for carrying out the provisions of the Code. In rental residential units, the landlord is considered to be the “owner” for purposes of the smoke alarm maintenance requirements. However, any person (including a tenant or other occupant) can be held responsible for intentionally disabling a smoke alarm so as to make in inoperable.
Every person who contravenes any provision of the Fire Code and every director or officer of a corporation who knowingly concurs in such contravention is guilty of a provincial offence. Failure to maintain smoke alarms in operating condition is a Fire Code violation subject to a fine, imprisonment, or to both.
Smoke alarms are important life safety devices and as such must be maintained in operating condition at all times. Smoke alarms generally become inoperative when the power source (either battery or AC power supply) is disconnected. Disconnected power supply, missing batteries, dead batteries and improperly installed batteries are the most common reasons for smoke alarm failure during a fire emergency.
On AC powered smoke alarms, the “power on” indicator on the smoke alarm should be checked regularly to ensure operability. When the circuit breaker is turned off or the fuse is removed from the smoke alarm circuit to carry out servicing, the power should be restored to the circuit immediately on completion of the work. In the event that the circuit cannot be restored the same day, battery operated smoke alarms should be installed to provide protection on a temporary basis.
Battery operated smoke alarms normally provide an intermittent warning signal for up to seven days when the battery is nearing the end of its life. When this occurs, the correct battery type should be installed immediately to ensure continued operability of the smoke alarm.
The following test and maintenance procedures are recommended to ensure operability of smoke alarms and fulfil obligations under the Fire Code. More frequent testing and cleaning schedules will provide greater assurance of operability and may reduce nuisance alarms.
Smoke alarms should be tested as described in Section 3.3 under the following conditions:
Smoke alarms should be replaced if:
As indicated previously, the landlord is responsible for smoke alarm maintenance in rental residential units. This includes the obligation to take action when a tenant or occupant reports a problem or files a complaint respecting operability of smoke alarms. The testing and maintenance schedule identified in Section 3 of this guideline is also the landlord’s responsibility. Such testing can only be carried out with the full co-operation of the tenant or occupant since access to the smoke alarm must be available. The lease agreement should therefore include provisions for access to carry out the necessary testing and maintenance. Unless it is an emergency, the Tenant Protection Act requires that landlords give 24 hours written notice to enter a tenant’s premises and the time of entry must be between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Although the Fire Code does not specifically require that written records of smoke alarm maintenance be maintained, a general requirement in Sentence 188.8.131.52.(1) states that written records of “corrective measures” must be maintained for a period of two years after they are made. It is in the landlord’s interest to keep written records as they will help to demonstrate due diligence in maintaining the smoke alarms in operating condition. The checklist attached to this guideline can be used for this purpose.
In addition to the above, the Fire Code requires that the landlord provide a copy of the smoke alarm manufacturer’s maintenance instructions or approved alternative to the occupant in each rental unit. A sample tenant/occupant information sheet is provided with this guideline. This information sheet may be used in lieu of the manufacturer’s instructions to satisfy the intent of Article 184.108.40.206. of the Fire Code. Once again, it is in the landlord’s interest to keep a written record to demonstrate that this information has been provided to the occupant of each rental unit.
The primary responsibility for ensuring that smoke alarms are maintained in operating condition rests with the landlord. This includes the test and maintenance schedule identified in Section 3 of this guideline. The Fire Code also contains the provision that “no person shall intentionally disable a smoke alarm so as to make it inoperable”. A tenant or occupant who disables a smoke alarm is therefore guilty of a provincial offence and may be subject to a fine.
Smoke alarms are important life safety devices installed for the protection of the occupants of the suite as well as other building occupants. It is reasonable to expect that tenants and occupants will take the following actions to ensure the operability of the smoke alarms:
Tenants or occupants are encouraged to take active participation in ensuring that the smoke alarms are maintained in operating condition and co-operate with the landlord in carrying out the necessary testing and maintenance.