California Building Code mandates smoke alarm installation in all residences. Detectors must be installed according to manufacturer’s instructions and accepted standards. So, for starters, brands of installed smoke alarms must appear on the State Fire Marshal’s approved list. If it’s a new residence, the smoke alarms must be actually hardwired into the building or home’s electrical system. Plus, it must include a battery back up, in case of power failure. For existing residences, smoke alarms can be solely battery powered.
You must place a smoke alarm on every floor of non-sleeping areas. Plus, you must install one smoke alarm in every room where someone sleeps. Plus, you must install one smoke alarm in every hallway leading directly to sleeping rooms. For all new residences, interconnected smoke alarms are required. Interconnected smoke detectors sound alarms when smoke is detected by any one of the alarms throughout the residence. Also, existing sprinkler systems no longer exempt residential property owners from adhering to smoke alarm installation requirements. Local ordinances sometimes have even stronger requirements.
If you own a rental property, it’s your responsibility to make sure smoke detectors function in accordance with the building code. If you rent, it’s your responsibility to inform the landlord of any non-functioning smoke alarms.
In the past few years, California rules for smoke detectors grew stronger after a series of new requirements. Now, California reports significantly fewer deaths per residential fire by percentage than the national average.
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