Inspect your smoke detectors before you need them

Smoke detector

Next time you change the battery in your smoke detectors, check the age of it as well. According to the US Fire Administration, most alarms have a life span of about 8-10 years. After this time, the entire unit should be replaced. Most alarms have their date of manufacture listed inside the unit. If you cannot find a date of manufacture on the alarm, consider it one that needs to be replaced. When you install the new alarm, write the date of purchase inside the cover.

If your fire alarm is battery powered only, replacement is simple and can be done by just about anyone with a screwdriver. If your alarm is “hard-wired”, it should be inspected and replaced by a certified electrician. It is also important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on maintenance and replacement of an alarm, so be sure to review them carefully when you buy a new one or inspect your current alarm.

Other fire alarm maintenance tips include:

  • Install new batteries at least once a year.
  • Test the alarm monthly.
  • Clean smoke alarms with a vacuum, without removing the alarm cover.
  • If your smoke alarm starts making a “chirping” noise, immediately replace the batteries and reset it.

In addition to properly working fire alarms, fire protection strategies recommend installing ABC fire extinguishers as well, unless you have cooking exposures, then a class “K” extinguisher is recommended. It is a good practice to have fire extinguishers positioned in strategic locations throughout your facility.  Some fire departments will give advice on positioning fire extinguishers. Make sure they are securely attached and easily accessible but not in a position to be knocked down. All fire extinguishers should be serviced and tagged annually by a qualified service contractor. Check the dates on your fire extinguishers. Make sure they have not expired; if they have, replace them immediately. Lastly, it is important that your staff understand how to use them effectively. Training is important for fire prevention too.


Smoke detector
This document is intended for general information purposes only, and should not be construed as advice or opinions on any specific facts or circumstances. The content of this document is made available on an “as is” basis, without warranty of any kind. This document can’t be assumed to contain every acceptable safety and compliance procedures or that additional procedures might not be appropriate under the circumstances. Markel does not guarantee that this information is or can be relied on for compliance with any law or regulation, assurance against preventable losses, or freedom from legal liability. This publication is not intended to be legal, underwriting, or any other type of professional advice. Persons requiring advice should consult an independent adviser.  Markel does not guarantee any particular outcome and makes no commitment to update any information herein, or remove any items that are no longer accurate or complete. Furthermore, Markel does not assume any liability to any person or organization for loss or damage caused by or resulting from any reliance placed on that content.

*Markel Specialty is a business division of Markel Service, Incorporated, the underwriting  manager for the Markel affiliated insurance companies.
© 2022 Markel Service, Incorporated.  All rights reserved. 
Was this helpful?