West Hills Regional Fire Department

Established 2006

1000 Luzerne Street  Johnstown, PA  15905
Phone: (814) 255-7777                Fax:  (814) 255-5855



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Smoke Detectors

Properly installed and maintained smoke detectors can double your chance of surviving a fire.

How to install your smoke detector properly.

Detectors that are hard-wired into the home electrical system should be installed by a qualified electrician. If the detector plugs into a wall socket, make sure the outlet is not connected to a wall switch that will allow someone to accidently turn off the electricity. Make sure the plug has a restraining device to keep it from being accidentally disconnected.

Many detectors are battery powered and can be installed by the homeowner. Read the directions that come with the detector for proper placement or call your local fire and rescue station for advise.

How many smoke detectors do you need?

For minimum protection, smoke detectors must be placed near bedrooms and in all basements, either in the middle of the ceiling or six to twelve inches below the ceiling on the wall. This placement enables the detector to sense the smoke as it approaches the sleeping area. Smoke, heated air and toxic gases will rise to the ceiling and begin to mushroom down.

Additionally, it is recommended that there be at least one smoke detector on every level of the home. For individuals who are difficult to awaken, it may be necessary to install an additional smoke detector inside the bedroom.

Smoke Detector Maintenance

Routine maintenance includes three basic steps: vacuum, test and change the battery.

Clean the smoke detector monthly by gently vacuuming to remove dust and cobwebs allowing proper air flow through the vents.

Test the smoke detector every month following the procedures recommended by the manufacturer.

Replace the battery annually. An easy way to remember this is to change the battery every fall at the same time that you change your clocks back from daylight savings time.

Finally, smoke detectors do not last forever. It is a good idea to replace any smoke detector that is more than 10 years old.

Life Safety Education Section
Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department


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