For most Fairfield families, the cost of a smoke detector is a small price to pay in the name of safety.
However, even a $25 device may be too costly for elderly and disabled residents confined to a tight budget.
So that every Fairfield resident can have the peace of mind an operable smoke detector provides, Fairfield firefighters install the devices free of charge in the homes of those who are not able to afford them or who are unable to service an existing smoke detector.
Any Fairfield resident who cannot afford a smoke detector or who is unable to change a battery can call the Fairfield Fire Department at 513-867-5379 or request assistance online. Upon receiving electronic requests, a Fairfield Fire Department employee will contact you to schedule a convenient time to provide assistance.
Fire kills an estimated 4,000 Americans every year, and another 20,000 people are seriously injured by fire each year.
Although we like to feel safe at home, about two-thirds of our nation's fire deaths happen in the victim's own home, and most of those occur between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. when occupants are more likely to be asleep.
A Johns Hopkins University study, funded by the United States Fire Administration, found that 75 percent of residential fire deaths and 84 percent of residential fire injuries could have been prevented by smoke detectors.
There are two basic types of smoke detectors.
Ionization detectors contain radioactive material that ionizes the air, making an electrical path. When smoke molecules attach themselves to the ions. The change in electric current flow triggers the alarm. The radioactive material is called americium. The amount is very small and not harmful.
Photoelectric detectors contain a light source, usually a bulb, and a photocell, which is activated by light. Light from the bulb reflects off the smoke particles and is directed toward the photocell. The photocell then is activated to trigger the alarm.
When choosing a smoke detector, consider which areas of the house you want to protect, where fire would be most dangerous and how many detectors you will need.
The safest bet is to have either both kinds of detectors or a combination detector with a battery backup. Be sure to check for a testing laboratory label on the detector. This label means that samples of that particular model have been tested under operating conditions. Check to see if it is easy to maintain and clean. Be sure bulbs and batteries are easy to purchase and convenient to install.
The City of Fairfield Fire Department recommends that every home have a smoke detector outside each sleeping area. . One detector in a short hallway outside the bedroom area is usually adequate. Hallways longer than 30 feet should have one at each end. For maximum protection, install a detector in each bedroom.
On floors without bedrooms, detectors should be installed in or near living areas, such as dens, living rooms or family rooms. Smoke detectors are not recommended for kitchens.
New homes constructed within the City of Fairfield are required to have a smoke detector installed on each floor, and a smoke detector must be installed within 10 feet of each bedroom.
Be sure to keep the detector away from fireplaces and wood stoves to avoid false alarms. Place smoke detectors at the top of each stairwell and at the end of each long hallway.
If you should put a smoke detector in your kitchen, be sure to keep it away from cooking fumes or smoking areas.
You can mount many detectors by yourself, but those connected to your household wiring should have their own separate circuit and be installed by a professional electrician.
If you mount your detector on the ceiling, be sure to keep it at least 18 inches away from dead air space near walls and corners. If you mount it on the wall, place it 6 to 12 inches below the ceiling and away from corners. Keep them high because smoke rises.
Never place them any closer than 3 feet from an air register that might recirculate smoke. Don't place them near doorways or windows where drafts could impair the detector operation. Don't place them on an uninsulated exterior wall or ceiling. Temperature extremes can affect the batteries.
Keeping smoke detectors in good condition is easy. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions.
Be sure to replace the batteries every six months, or as needed. Most models will make a chirping, popping or beeping sound when the battery is losing its charge. When this sound is heard, install a fresh battery, preferably an alkaline type.
Replace bulbs every three years or as needed. Keep extras handy.
Check the smoke detector every 30 days by releasing smoke or pushing the test button.
Clean the detector face and grillwork often to remove dust and grease.
Never paint a smoke detector, as it will hamper its function.
Check your detector if you've been away from home.
Smoke detectors should be replaced every 10 years.
After 10 years, your smoke detector will have been working consecutively for 87,000 hours. No other appliance in your home works this long.
If you do not know how old your smoke detector is, or if it is 10 years or older, replace it as soon as possible.