The Maryland Smoke Alarm Law & Don’t forget to check your batteries!



Maryland Smoke Alarm Law and Don't forget to check your batteries!
Video Transcription

0:46 Happy Halloween

1:04 Change your Clocks

1:10 Change your Batteries

2:15 Bare minimum requirement (for older homes built prior to 1975)

2:50 Hardwired Smoke Detectors (what is required)

4:50 New Code – New Homes

6:30 My humble Opinion on what to do!

7:15 Hits a little close to home – Our own close call!


Maryland DLLR – Smoke Alarm Law

PDF – Smoke Alarm Law

Anne Arundel County Fire Department Info Sheet

FEMA Information Sheet



Mike Williams: Hey everybody, it’s Mike Williams here with RE/MAX One and and today I’m going to discuss with you a couple of items. First daylight savings time and then we’re going to discuss what daylight savings time means to your safety, meaning smoke detectors. It’s that time. And then also I’m going to try to explain the new smoke detector law so that you can understand it to its best, most common sense form. Okay? Because I know a lot of people are confused by it. They hear the word law and they get scared. But here’s the good news. What is the word law doing? It’s making everybody talk about it. So it is becoming in the, it’s kind of in the forefront of the real estate world or the fire safety world in regards to this law.

So I hope everybody had a great evening last night. I know we did, it was Halloween. We went out and we got out and enjoyed trick-or-treating before the rain and the wind and everything came in and it was just an absolute beautiful day. Now, what are we facing? Tomorrow, Saturday, before you go to bed, move your clocks back. Okay? Move, they would fall back. So if it’s 10 o’clock move them to 9, if it’s 11 move them to 10. And just what goes hand in hand with the daylight savings time is check your smoke detectors. So even if you’ve upgraded, even if you have the new detectors that don’t have batteries in them, go press the button. Make sure that they still work. All right? It is mechanical. Things that are mechanical tend to fail. So just make sure that all your detectors in your house work, please. I know it’s something that we have good intentions to do, but then we never go do it.

In 20 years of the fire department and all the fires that I’ve run, and including national statistics, two thirds, 66%, of all fatalities in fires have been in homes with non-working smoke detectors. Two thirds of all deaths in fires in homes have been in non-working smoke detector homes. Okay? This is why Maryland got so prevalent with this new law and wanted to make it a big deal.

Maryland Smoke Alarm Law


So here’s the law. Here’s the bare minimum. You have to have, if you are in a very old home, okay… so in other words, there were no laws when your home was built. If you’re in an older home, you have to have a smoke detector on every floor of your house, the basement, the main level, and the upstairs at a bare minimum. If you have battery operated detectors, meaning you take them down and there’s no wire that’s connecting the detector, then they have to be 10 year sealed battery operated smoke detectors. So if you currently walk through your home and you see a detector that is battery operated, that needs to be replaced.

If you have a hardwired smoke detector, then the, it can be a battery backup. However, it cannot be older than 10 years old. The best way to check for this is to take the smoke detector down and then look on the backside of the smoke detector and you will see a manufacturing date. If you cannot find a manufacturing date on the smoke detector, then go replace it. All right?

Okay. All of the resources to this info are below. State Fire Marshall’s website. There’s an op ed page that was on a department of labor for Maryland from the State Fire Marshall and then So there’s a couple of different locations where I’m getting this info. All right?

So at a bare minimum, if you’re in an old home, one detector on each level of your home, those detectors need to be 10 year sealed smoke detectors. And then, and really that’s the bare minimum. Now based on when your home was built or if you update your home, meaning we need to bring your home up to a new code, you’re renovating it and the code enforcement guy comes out and says, or the planning guy comes out and says, “Hey, I’m going to give you this permit, but in order to redo your kitchen you’re going to have to do this, this and this.” And that’s usually the timeframe when homes have to be brought up to code.

The other assumption of when homes have to be brought up to code is when we resell a home. So if you’re selling it, everything needs to be correct. Okay? Other than that, it’s your private residence. It’s kind of, you take your own risk if you will. Now, if you have an apartment building, a rental, rental license or if you have somebody staying with you and they’re paying rent and you don’t have a rental license, please make sure you come to this max code. This is kind of the top of the line. All right. The new code for making sure that everything is in compliance in all the new build homes is that you need a smoke detector in each floor of your home, basement, first floor, second floor, third floor, doesn’t matter, outside of what is considered a sleeping area. So if you have somebody permanently sleeping in what used to be a dining room and now it’s got doors on it and it’s a bedroom, there has to be a detector in that area. Your hallway outside of your main bedrooms, there has to be a detector in that area.

Then there needs to be detector in each bedroom. Now, if you were building a home, all of these detectors need to be hardwired together so that when one goes off, they all go off. Now here’s why this is important. If you live in a two story house and you have a basement and a fire starts in your basement, how are you going to know on the second floor? And if that basement detector goes off, you’re not going to hear it. So what happens is when the basement detector goes off, the ones upstairs go off. All right? And that’s how people are being saved these days is small, what are called incipient fires, that create smoke, whether it’s in the basement or the first floor now detecting people on the second floor and letting them know. So if your detectors are not hardwired, they do make Bluetooth smoke detectors where they will connect to each other.

So again, bare minimum, one on each floor. If you want to go max and make sure that you’re completely protected and safe, then every bedroom, each floor and outside the sleeping areas. And if you want to take it a step further and you’re not hardwired already, make sure that they’re Bluetooth and the Bluetooth will connect them. And guess what? When you go to check you detectors, how easy it’ll be. Just press the button when they all go off, you know they’re good. You don’t have to go check each one. All right?

Now there is, if you want to take it even a step further, and here’s my humble opinion. A Bluetooth smoke detector that’s wired now costs about $30 a detector. If you have a four bedroom home, it’s $120 and these are non wired, okay? If you have a four bedroom home, that’s $120. If you have a hallway, it’s $160. If you have a first floor, it’s $190. And if you have a basement, that’s $220. If you put a room in your basement, it’s $250. For $250 for a Bluetooth wired smoke detector, is that worth your child, your brother, your sister, your aunt, your uncle, your kid’s friend that staying over? Is that worth protecting their life more and making sure that they’re safe? And I personally think it is.

A Little to Close for Comfort

One of the reasons I’m so passionate about this is not only 20 years as a fireman, but I was at work the other day on a 24 hour shift and my wife sent me a picture of a thermostat to our hot water heater. So here’s what it looks like.

This is what she experienced. Now this one little thermostat that melted and melted the plastic around it, charging the entire basement with smoke. We have a smoke detector in the basement. It did not work. It did not alarm them. It did not let them know. She just smelled electric and then sent our 10 year old son downstairs and says, “Hey, go tell me if there’s smoke in the basement.” And he came back and said, “Yeah, there’s a lot of it.” So as much as I walk around our home and make sure that we’re safe and we’re protected and things like that, anybody is vulnerable to this happening. The great news, it didn’t happen in the middle of the night. The smoke detector, it was during the daytime, we think the smoke detector would have gone off. It just didn’t get below a level of a door jam, which means I’m actually going to add another smoke detector. But still, thank God it wasn’t in the middle of the night.

So I know this is deep. I know it’s important, but clocks change on December… or excuse me, on Saturday. And then check your smoke detectors. If you have any questions about what I’ve brought up, please comment below. Let me know what those questions are. If you’re on my website, go into the contact form below, give me your information and ask your question. Give me a call, send me an email. I’m more than happy to discuss this with you and give you an idea of what is some better ideas to protect you and then what are some ways to make sure that you’re abiding by the new law.


Don’t Forget About CO Detectors

One final thing before I forget, smoke, CO. CO’s the little red little brother over here. CO detectors are required in a home if you have gas, so gas appliances, gas furnace, gas stove, any type of, if you’ve got a gas fireplace that you put in, it’s only the fireplace and then if you have an attached garage. Okay? So if your garage is connected to your home or if you have gas in your home, make sure that you have at least one CO detector. My opinion is put one on your main level and put one by your bedrooms. There are a lot of CO and smoke combinations as well.

Again, have yourself a great day. Let me know if you have any questions. And remember, it does matter who you work with.

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