Important Information About Smoke Alarm Law Effective January 1, 2018

Maryland’s smoke alarm law requires the replacement of all BATTERY-ONLY operated smoke alarms with units powered by sealed in, 10-year long-life batteries. In addition, both hard-wired and battery operated smoke alarms need to be replaced every ten years. If any of your smoke alarms have not been replaced since 2007, then it is time to replace them.

In 2013, the Maryland General Assembly joined many other states in passing a law that requires residential battery-operated smoke alarms to be replaced with new units powered by sealed-in, 10-year long-life batteries and be equipped with a “hush-button” feature that will temporarily silence the alarm if activated by a non-emergency situation. Any new units added to a house must also meet these requirements. The law gave homeowners until January 1, 2018 to comply with the law.

Homes in Olney Oaks generally came with two hard-wired smoke alarms. One was put in the basement and the other outside the bedrooms in the second floor hallway. These units are most likely interconnected so that both will make noise if either one is activated. These hard-wired units must be replaced with similar hard-wired units. It is  recommended that new hard-wired units include battery back-up so they will work even if the power goes out. You can then install a 10-year lithium 9-volt battery so you don’t have to remember to change the battery each year.

Look for a date on the outside edge of each smoke alarm or on the underside facing the wall or ceiling after carefully twisting it off its mounting bracket. If there is no date of manufacture on the unit, it is definitely more than ten years old and should be replaced. Keep in mind that the test button only verifies that the unit has power and the electronics are working. It does not test the actual detector, which loses effectiveness after 10 years.

Smoke alarms are required to be located in the hallway outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the first floor and basement. Homes constructed since 1994 must have smoke alarms inside all sleeping rooms. Fire officials recommend adding smoke alarms in all sleeping rooms for all houses for maximum safety.

Keep in mind that there are two basic types of smoke alarms: ionization and photoelectric. Click here for details. There are also combination units. Otherwise, just install a mix of the two types.

For more information, call the Montgomery County call center at 3-1-1 or go to