Smoke Detectors

Smoke Detectors
The law requires all new one and two family dwellings or any additions to them that include sleeping areas (bedrooms) be provided with hard-wired interconnected smoke detection with battery backup.
The detectors must be installed on every level of the home, at the base of stairwells, outside bedrooms, and inside each bedroom.
The importance of smoke detectors cannot be over stressed. All too often needless deaths and injuries have occurred because people either did not install detectors or did not replace the batteries. The Fire Services Division recommends changing batteries twice a year and to test smoke detectors once a month to ensure that batteries are fresh. An easy way to remember is to change the batteries when you reset your clocks in spring and fall.
Residential buildings or structures; equipping with smoke detectors upon sale or transfer.  As of April 5, 2010 changes in the State's Smoke Alert Regulations for homes with 5 or less units will occur. The regulation will require that only photoelectric smoke detectors be installed within 20 feet of a kitchen, or bath containing a shower, in order to reduce nuisance alarms from cooking smoke or steam that led people to disable their smoke alarms. To help guide homeowners and Realtors to understand the new requirements, the State has created a Smoke and Carbon Monoxide guide, which can be viewed here.
All detectors are to be ceiling mounted unless otherwise approved by the Head of the Fire Department.
1 and 2 Family Dwellings
Smoke detectors may be battery or hard wired depending on the year the residence was constructed or the year of the last major renovation.  In new construction they must be electrically hard-wired.
3 to 5 Family Dwellings:
Common hallways, corridors and basements must be hard-wired and inter-connected (when one sounds they all sound).  As with the above dwellings, the apartments may be battery or hard-wired, depending on the construction year or last major renovation.
6 or More Units
Entire building must be hard-wired throughout with battery back-up. Smoke detectors in apartments must be wired independently to each apartment. In addition there must manual pull-stations at all building exits. All of the devices must be connected to a fire alarm control panel (FACP).
Apartments located over business establishments require hard-wire systems connected to a fire alarm control panel also.
Location of smoke detectors
Type of Dwelling:
Single Family
  • Basement - in the basement at the bottom of the stairs
  • 1st Floor - at the stairway that leads to the 2nd floor at least 6 ft from the kitchen area. Outside all sleeping areas (bedrooms) if applicable.       
  • 2nd Floor - outside all sleeping areas (bedrooms)
  • Attic - If home has a fixed stairway that leads to the attic - at the stairway that leads to the attic level and in the attic. None are required for crawl spaces or pull-down attic stairs.

Two Family

  • Basement - in the basement at the bottom of the stairs leading from the 1st floor apartment. If there is a floor-ceiling partition than another detector is required at the bottom of the stairs leading from the 2nd floor apartment.
  • 1st Floor - outside the sleeping areas (bedrooms).
  • 2nd Floor -Outside the sleeping areas (bedrooms). If the 2nd floor unit has its own rear entrance one is required at the ceiling before ascending the stairs to the 2nd level.
  • Attic - Same as single family dwelling.
** Any time you are unsure of detector placement you should refer back to the brochure from the MA State Fire Marshalís Office that is referenced above.
** Three family and above require plans approved by the Head of the Fire Department.