Smoke Alarms

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  • The cause of most fire deaths is smoke - not flames
  • Most fire deaths and injuries occur between midnight and 8 a.m. when people are asleep
  • Seconds count! You will have less than five (5) minutes to escape your home in the event of a fire
  • The earlier a smoke alarm alerts you to a fire, the more time you and your family have to escape 
The Bend Fire Department reminds everyone that a working smoke alarm can save your life in the event of a fire. Make sure your smoke alarms are working properly is a quick way to help ensure the safety of yourself and your family in the event of a fire.  
Smoke alarm test
Shepard Electric, Inc. © 2009 

What do I do if my smoke alarm goes off and there is a fire?

    Get out and stay out! Never go back inside for people, pets or belongings. Call 911 and ensure everyone has gotten out safely. 

      How do I keep my smoke alarm working?

      • Test smoke alarms monthly. Replace batteries or the unit itself it if isn't working during testing.
      • Replace the batteries in hardwired alarms annually. This will cut down on the chances chirping alarms and ensure your alarm will still work even if you loose power. 
      • Clean smoke alarms regularly to remove dust and cobwebs. You can use a vacuum or a can of compressed air to accomplish this.
      • Never disconnect or remove smoke alarm batteries for other uses.
      • Replace alarm or battery based on the alarm type. (Hardwired have a normal 9V battery in them, replace annually. Battery only units have a 10 year battery in them and don't need to be replaced)

      What do I do if my smoke alarm goes off and it is a false alarm?

      • Do not disable smoke alarms when activated by cooking or other non-fire causes.
      • Use the smoke alarm’s hush feature if available.
      • Open windows and doors to clear smoke from your home
      • Call your local fire department for assistance if you can not get the alarm to reset or need assistance in determining what to do next.


      We get a lot of calls asking about what you should do when your alarms are older than 10 years. Here are some guidelines to follow:

      • When is it required that I replace my alarms that are over 10 years old?
        • When you sell your home, Oregon Law requires that all smoke alarms be in compliance with the manufactures guidelines or after 10 years of age and installed as per the laws at the time of construction. All manufactures suggest replacement after 10 years old. So before you put your home on the market, be sure to check the alarm for the manufacture date.
        • Also when you rent your home own either as a long term rental, short term rental or VRBO, your smoke alarms need to comply with Oregon Law. 
      • How do I know how old my alarm is? On the back of the alarm should be a stamped manufacture date. That is the date we compare against to determine how old the alarm is. If there is no date printed, the alarm is much older than 10 years and needs to be replaced. 
      • If I own my home and aren't selling or renting, am I required to replace my alarms? No, the only requirement is when you sell or rent your home out. If you are living in the home you can do as you please but the Bend Fire Department high recommends following the manufactures suggestion of replacing your alarms after 10 years. Working smoke alarms more than doubles your chances of surviving a house fire. 
      • Do I have to add more alarms to my home than I already have when I replace old alarms? No, the law requires for you to ensure the same level of coverage that was required at the time of construction is maintained in the home throughout. This means if your home only had a hard wired alarm in the hallway when it was built, that is all that needs to be there to meet the law. But adding battery operated alarms to bedrooms is always a good idea. But any alarm in the house at the time of sale, rental or transfer shall be less than 10 years old and working. 
      • Whats the best way to replace the older hardwired alarms? If at all possible, get new hardwired alarms that come with adapters or get adapters when you purchase the new alarms. This way you won't need to do any rewiring when you go to install the new alarms. Most manufactures make a set that comes with adapters and this will be marked on the box. There are also adapter kits for sale at most retailers. 
      • Can the fire department help me figure out my needs, guide me to what I need to get and help me install my alarms? Yes we can! We are more than happy to come out and meet you at your home and find out your best options for updating your alarms. We can guide you on different options for alarms, adapters, etc. And then we can assist installing your new alarms as long as we are either using the existing plug or using adapters. We are unable to do any wiring for customers, but we can usually resolve the installation without any wiring needs. Just give our main office a call 541-322-6300 and schedule an appointment. 

      Information for Home Owners and Occupants:

      Smoke alarms save lives! Ensure you smoke alarm(s) are working properly at all times. If your smoke alarm goes off for unknown reasons, find the problem and a solution instead of just removing the alarm from service. A smoke alarm in a drawer does not protect your family from a fire. If your home is older and only has one smoke alarm in the home, consider adding more to better protect yourself and your family. Ensure everyone in the home knows what the smoke alarms sound like and what to do in the event they go off. Have an escape plan for your family. Practice that plan so everyone knows what to do in the event of an emergency. 

      Information for Renters:

      The owner/manager of the rental shall provide you with a working smoke alarm upon moving in and replace the smoke alarm if malfunctioning. It shall be the responsibility of the tenant of any rental dwelling unit to perform such tests on the smoke alarms or smoke detectors located in a part of the dwelling unit that the tenant is entitled to occupy to the exclusion of others as are recommended by the manufacturers instructions and immediately notify, in writing, the owner or authorized agent of any deficiencies. Testing intervals shall not exceed six months. It shall also be the responsibility of the tenant during the tenancy to replace any dead batteries, as needed. (ORS 475.270 and 475.275). No tenant or person shall remove or tamper with a properly functioning smoke alarm or smoke detector installed in conformance with ORS, which includes removing the batteries. (ORS 475.300) Landlords can charge up to a $250 fee for non-compliance of these sections as per (ORS 479.990). More tenant/landlord laws are found under Chapter 90 of the ORS.

      Information for the Landlord:

      The owner of any rental dwelling unit or the owners authorized agent shall be responsible for supplying, installing and maintaining the required smoke alarms or smoke detectors and shall provide a written notice containing instructions for testing of the devices. The notice shall be given to the tenant at the time the tenant first takes possession of the premises. The duty of the owner or authorized agent of the owner to maintain the required smoke alarms or smoke detectors, including providing working batteries, arises only: (a) Prior to the beginning of every new tenancy when the tenant first takes possession of the premises; and (b) During the tenancy upon written notice from the tenant of any deficiency. Supplying and maintaining a smoke alarm or smoke detector under ORS 479.250 to 479.305 shall be considered a habitable condition under ORS 90.320 (Landlord to maintain premises in habitable condition). Battery replacement is the tenants responsibility as per ORS 479.275. (ORS 475.270 and 475.275) Landlords can charge up to a $250 fee for none compliance of these sections as per (ORS 479.990). More tenant/landlord laws are found under Chapter 90 of the ORS.

      Information for New Construction:

      Homes built or remodeled since 1997 are required to have a smoke alarm on every floor of the home, in every sleeping room and outside of every sleeping room within 21 feet of the doorway. (OAR 837-045-0050) If you remodel, the area affected by the remodel shall meet this standard. These smoke alarms shall be hardwired with a battery back up and interconnected so when one detects smoke, they all alarm. Check with your local building department for more details on what is required. 

      Bend Fire Department has several programs aimed directly at ensuring every home has at least one working smoke alarm and to provide education about smoke alarms:

      CODE READY: a door to door campaign program aimed at talking to residents one on one about smoke alarms and providing smoke alarms FREE of charge if they can not afford one. 

      HOME CONSULTATIONS: if we don't come to your neighborhood on a door to door campaign, we can still come to your home and review your homes smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Free smoke alarms can be provided for those in need. 

      Please call our office at 541-322-6300 to arrange a free home consultation.

      Deaf and Hard of Hearing - A FREE program to assist those with hearing limitations obtain the correct smoke alarms to ensure they have the means to be alerted to a fire in their home. 

      Safety Outreach for Seniors - A FREE safety program provided by the City of Bend Fire Department helps you uncover harmful conditions in and around your home that may place you, your guests and pets at risk of injury or even death. 

      What about Carbon Monoxide (CO) Alarms? Click here to find out more. 

      Links to brochures and more information about Smoke alarms



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