Starting at the beginning of this year, Florida has new smoke detector laws. Under the new laws, smoke alarms in homes need to use either permanent batteries or electricity. Permanent batteries are ones that last ten years and are tamper-proof. Before the law change, remodeled and new homes had to use electricity-powered smoke alarms.
According to fire fighters, legislators, and authorities, the new law is aimed at reducing fire-related fatalities and burns in Miami and across Florida. One of the problems with traditional battery-powered alarms is that the alarms can easily be disabled. In many house fires resulting in serious injury and fatalities, fire fighters report that homes have smoke detectors but those detectors are not working. In some cases, smoke detectors are triggered by cooking and residents remove the batteries to prevent false alarms. In other cases, residents fail to notice that batteries have died or are not working correctly. In the event of a fire, these issues can be deadly since they can mean that a detector does not alert residents in time.
One problem with fire regulations, though, is that they can be hard to enforce. Although the new laws are meant to ensure that all homes have tamper-proof alarms that will work in the event of a fire, authorities note that fire inspectors rarely enter homes so there are few ways to ensure that residents comply with smoke detector rules.
Is your home compliant with the new smoke detector rules? If you are renting, you may wish to speak to the landlord about ensuring that you have adequate smoke detectors that will protect you in the event of a fire. The new law is also a good opportunity to take a look at your own smoke detectors and your fire prevention plan. This may be a good time to:
1) Swap out your smoke detectors. Since electric wired and permanent battery-operated smoke detectors offer additional protection, this may be good idea to change up your alarms.
2) Check your smoke detectors. Even if you have electric or permanent battery-operated smoke detectors, test them periodically to make sure that all is well. Read and follow manufacturer’s directions for testing the devices.
3) Have a fire prevention plan. Are you turning off your fire and smoke detectors because they are set off during cooking? Do you have a fire extinguisher in your home? Do you use candles or space heaters that could pose a fire risk? Are any of the cords for electrical appliances in your home worn or frayed? This is a good time to walk through your home and keep a lookout for any potential fire hazards that you notice. Address these issues now before they lead to a fire and burn injuries.
4) Develop and practice your fire escape plan. A smoke detector alone may not be enough to protect your family from a serious fire. You’ll also need a good fire escape plan. Do you have a way of getting out of any second-story windows? You have an escape route from each room? Do your children understand how to get out of a house in the event of a fire? This is a good time to create a fire escape plan for every room and to practice it with everyone in your family.
Have you been injured by a faulty smoke detector, arson, or a landlord who negligently failed to provide a smoke detector? If you have been injured by any instance of negligence or recklessness, you can always contact Flaxman Law Group, a law firm in South Florida. We can arrange a free, no obligation consultation that you can review the options that may exist for you under Florida law.