The National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code (NFPA 2013 72) has set standards to transition away from smoke alarms powered by removable 9-volt batteries and encourage the adoption of new technologies. The most recent version of the code requires smoke alarms to be hard-wired, interconnected, and backed up with a 10-year sealed battery.
It also reinforces requirements for the placement around the home of smoke alarms, namely:
While there’s general recognition at state and local levels that mandating smoke alarm upgrades to the current standard—which requires installation by a licensed electrician—would be onerous for owners of older homes and, therefore, unenforceable, many states throughout the U.S. are now trying to drive upgrades through the permitting process for major interior renovations and additions. In many jurisdictions, if plans involve opening up walls or building new ones, the remodeler/owner must also plan to install hard-wired, interconnected smoke alarms to get a permit (see state-by-state table below).
Some jurisdictions require dual-sensor smoke alarms with both ionization and photoelectric detectors. And some require carbon monoxide detectors to be installed with compliant smoke alarms in an upgrade.
The permitting process is not the only official lever being used to nudge owners and builders into compliance with the latest smoke alarm standards.
Some jurisdictions also mandate replacements and upgrades when:
Where smoke alarms are integrated with home security systems that also include intrusion alarms, programming keypads, transformers, automatic telephone dialers, and annunciators to sound the alarm, there are additional considerations. While the code allows combination alarm systems, when a fire detection device is present, it becomes a “household fire alarm system” that is subject to NFPA standards.
That means that:
This article originally appeared on nachi.org and is authored by Michael Chotiner of The Home Depot. It is used with permission from the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors.