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Municipality of the District of Chester
Fire & Emergency Response

 Under the best of circumstances you have approximately 1-2 minutes to safely exit your home when you hear the smoke detector alarm. Smoke detectors are inexpensive early warning devices that definitely saves lives.  

Location and Installation

  • Smoke detectors should be placed on every level of the home, including the basement.
  • They should be placed near bedrooms and other living spaces.
  • Do not place detectors in a kitchen or directly outside a bathroom where they may create nuisance alarms.
  • Always read and follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully.
  • An alarm should be mounted on the ceiling in or near the centre of the room, hall or stairway.
  • An alarm should be mounted at the head of each stairway leading to an occupied area.
  • For wall mounts mount at least 15 cm (6 inches) from the ceiling but not more than 30 cm (19 inches) from it.
  • Avoid installing where the temperature is less than 5 C (41 F) or exceeds 48 C (119 F).
  • Keep alarms away from doors and windows.
  • Never locate an alarm in front of air registers, fans or vents.
  • Keep alarms at least 60 cm (2 feet) from any corner.
  • Don't recess an alarm into a wall or ceiling.
  • Smoke alarms in rooms with ceiling slopes greater than 30 cm (one foot) rise per 2.4 m (eight feet) horizontally should be located on the high side of the room.
  • Avoid locating an alarm at the peak of an "A" frame type ceiling.
  • Never paint a smoke alarm.
  • Keep alarms 60 to 90 cm (two to three feet) away from light fixtures.
  • Use a qualified electrical contractor when connecting an alarm into the electrical wiring system.
  • Never install the alarm in the electrical circuit except at the main panel.
  • Alarms must also never be installed in a circuit connected to an on/off switch.
  • Check the alarm when installation is complete.

Testing & Cleaning

  • Test your smoke alarm monthly and clean it every 6 months. Mark it on your calendar.
  • To clean the alarm, open the cover and gently vacuum the interior of it.
  • Your smoke alarm can't protect you if the batteries have been removed or a plug has been disconnected.
  • Ensure that power is being transmitted to the alarm and that it will activate in the presence of smoke.
  • Even alarms with a pilot light that indicate power is being transmitted, should be tested regularly.
  • Test your smoke alarm by pressing the test button.
  • For battery-operated smoke alarms make it a habit to change the batteries twice a year.
  • If you've been away for a few days, check your alarm on your return to ensure it is working properly.
  • The lifespan of a typical smoke alarm is about 10 years, but some models last as little as 5 years.