Smoke and Heat Alarms

Fit smoke and heat alarms and test them regularly

  • Smoke and heat alarms save lives.
  • Fit a minimum of one working smoke alarm on every level of your home, preferably in a circulation space such as a hallway or landing.
  • Fit additional alarms in other rooms that are regularly inhabited and where there could be a risk of a fire starting.
  • Fit a heat alarm in your kitchen area.
  • Test your alarms at least monthly, by pressing the test button until the alarm sounds.
  • If you experience a false alarm (and there is no fire), you can silence the alarm by pressing the same test button. It will automatically re-set.

Smoke and heat alarm maintenance

  • Vacuum your alarms with a soft brush vacuum nozzle every three months and wipe over with a damp cloth to remove any dust.
  • The alarms that Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) fits have a ten-year sealed battery which does not need to be changed. Replace the whole unit after 10 years.
  • For non-sealed battery-operated alarms, change the batteries once a year.
  • Never take the batteries out of your alarm to use in another electrical item. An alarm without batteries cannot warn you if a fire starts.

More information about smoke and heat alarms

  • A smoke alarm is a warning device that detects smoke at the earliest stages of a fire.
  • A heat alarm is a warning device that detects an increase in temperature from a fire but is insensitive to smoke.
  • Heat alarms are more suitable for detecting fires in kitchens or other rooms where steam, fumes or moisture could cause nuisance alarms in smoke alarms.
  • When a smoke or heat alarm detects a fire, it will make a piercing noise to alert or wake you.
  • Many people killed in house fires are asleep at the time.
  • A smoke or heat alarm can wake you up and give you vital extra time to escape.

Choosing smoke alarms

  • Smoke alarms can cost as little as £5-£10 and are available from DIY stores, electrical shops and many supermarkets and high-street retailers.
  • There are different types of smoke alarms available. Some use optical sensor technology (typically more effective at detecting slow burning fires). Others use ionisation sensor technology (typically more effective at detecting fast, flaming fires). Multi sensor alarms are also available.
  • If possible, fit an optical multi sensor smoke alarm with a ten-year life span. Buying an alarm with a sealed battery compartment will help to prevent tampering or removal of the battery. Whichever model you choose, look out for one which has a British Standard Kitemark symbol.

Home Fire Safety Assessments

If you are eligible for a Home Fire Safety Assessment (internal webpage) visit from GMFRS, we may fit free smoke and heat alarms during the visit, depending on the fire risk.

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