New Smoke Alarm Requirement

Do you have an apartment property old enough to have “single-station” smoke alarms? Those are the 9-volt battery kind that aren’t hard wired or interconnected. Anything built before the late 1980s is likely to have these.

Starting this month, any time you replace a single-station smoke alarm in the city limits of Houston, you need to replace it with the new sealed, tamper-resistant type with the long-life lithium battery.

This Houston Fire Code change was adopted by the city earlier this year. HAA fought to make sure the new requirement only applies when a smoke alarm gets broken, stolen or otherwise needs to be replaced. There’s no deadline to replace existing 9-volt battery smoke alarms as long as they continue to work properly.

Yes, these cost more (they retail for around $15, rather than around $7 for the 9-volt battery kind), but they have some advantages. How many times have your residents taken the batteries out of your smoke alarms – either to shut them up after a cooking mishap or because they wanted the battery for something else? The new alarms are sealed and tamper-resistant. The internal battery won’t fit any other device, even if they destroy the unit to remove it. If the device activates, there’s a “hush” button to silence it – and it resets automatically after a few minutes. That means fewer disabled smoke alarms and better protection for lives and property. Many leases make residents responsible for batteries once the lease begins, but think how much your property spends on 9-volt batteries for make-readies. Tamper resistant alarms are generally warrantied to last at least 10 years.

Call HAA’s Public Affairs Department at 713 595-0303 if you have any questions about the new requirement.