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Smoke Alarms

Roughly 70 percent of home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no working smoke alarms.  Smoke alarms are one of the great safety success stories of the 20th century, but only when they are working properly.


The Tacoma Fire Department recommends that you install at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home including the basement and every bedroom.  Smoke alarms are designed to wake you up if a fire starts while you are sleeping. 


When was the last time you heard your smoke alarm?  Battery-operated alarms should be tested once a month to make certain they are working. 


Replace the batteries in your smoke alarm once a year. The Tacoma Fire Department recommends you do this when we change our clocks to Daylight Savings Time each fall. Install a new battery immediately if an alarm chirps to indicate a low battery. A ten-year lithium battery smoke alarm does not need to have its battery changed. Replace smoke alarms that use extended-life, lithium batteries when the alarm chirps or fails to respond to periodic testing. The batteries in these units cannot be replaced. 

False Alarms

Use the mute button to silence a false alarm. Never disconnect or remove the battery. If your smoke alarm does not have a mute button use a magazine or kitchen towel to wave fresh air into the detection unit.


Replace your smoke alarm every ten years. After ten years, your smoke alarm will have been working non-stop for 87,000 hours. No other appliance in your home works this long. If you do not know the age of your smoke alarm, or if it is ten years or older, replace it as soon as possible.

Do you need a smoke alarm?

Home Owners

You may qualify for free smoke alarms from the America Red Cross Northwest Region. Visit the Red Cross to request the installation of smoke alarms in your home.


Whether you live in a rented house or apartment, your landlord is required to provide you with a working smoke alarm. Tenants are responsible for maintaining the smoke alarms including replacing the batteries when needed.  If your rental property does not have a smoke alarm, inform your landlord of this obligation. Check out our guide, Smoke Alarms in Rental Units for more detailed information.

Smoke Alarm Guide
Smoke Alarms in Rental Units
Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Carbon Monoxide Alarm Requirements 2013