A working smoke detector saves lives. Nearly 2/3 of home fire deaths result from fires in properties without working smoke alarms. A working smoke alarm significantly increases your chances of surviving a deadly home fire! Here are answers to our community's frequently asked questions about smoke alarms:
How many smoke alarms should I have?
Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of your home.
How often should I test my alarms, and how often should I replace my smoke alarm batteries?
Smoke alarms should be tested every month. Batteries should be replaced at least once a year, and ideally every six months! Consider changing them when the time changes for Daylight Savings twice a year ... "Change Your Clocks, Change Your Batteries!" If the alarm is chirping, change the batteries immediately then hold down the test button for a few seconds; if the alarm doesn't produce a loud beep, then the alarm itself may be dead and you should consider replacing the entire alarm right away.
How often should I replace the entire alarm? What kind of smoke alarms should I get?
Smoke alarms are generally not designed to be reliable or effective after 10 years. You should change the entire alarm, not just the batteries, at least every 10 years – or sooner if fresh batteries don’t produce a successful test. This is true both for hard-wired (interconnected) alarms and independent (stand alone) alarms. If you move into a home that was built over 10 years ago and can’t confirm when/if the alarms were replaced, you should replace them all when you move in.
We recommend purchasing a major brand at an established hardware or home supply store. We encourage you to get DUAL-SENSOR smoke alarms. While a single-sensor alarm is far better than not having an alarm at all, it may not detect all types of fire situations as quickly as possible. Dual-sensor smoke alarms better protect lives and property, because they include two kinds of fire technology: one that detects smoke faster (photoelectric) and the other that detects heat/flames faster (ionization). If you must choose between a photoelectric alarm and an ionization alarm for your home, we suggest photoelectric.
If you have the financial means, we also encourage you to invest in smoke alarms that use lithium ion batteries. Traditional 9V batteries are fine but they only last 6 months, while lithium ion batteries last approximately 10 years! You still have to test lithium batteries every month, but you generally don’t have to replace the batteries for 10 years. Also, lithium battery-powered alarms are typically sealed, which prevents anyone from tampering with the detector or removing the battery for any reason. We call them “low maintenance, high protection” alarms!
Will PFD come help me test or install my alarms?
*** We prioritize our limited resources for residents without working smoke alarms who lack the (a) financial means and/or (b) physical means to assist themselves. We ask that residents who need help installing an alarm or doing monthly tests seek assistance FIRST from their family members, friends, neighbors, caregiver, handyman, or qualified electrician. ***
AFTER you have asked your family, friends and neighbors for help with your alarm ... if you don't have the financial means to get help and you don't have the physical means to tend to your alarm, you are welcome to call our non-emergency number (512) 281-2501 and ask for the Community Outreach Coordinator to see if you qualify for assistance.
If you would like to learn more about smoke alarms and fire safety, you are encouraged to call (512) 281-2501 and ask for the Community Outreach Coordinator, who can share information with you over the phone or via email.
Does Pflugerville Fire Department (PFD) provide free smoke alarms?
Residents within our service area who indicate they lack the financial means to purchase a smoke alarm are welcome to visit our Administration Building (203 E. Pecan St., Pflugerville) during business hours (8 to 5, M-F) to pick up ONE free smoke alarm.
My smoke alarm is chirping. Can PFD come check it?
Smoke alarms tend to make a quick “chirp” if the battery is low, indicating you should change your batteries right away. We typically do not visit homes to change smoke alarm batteries except in rare cases involving lack of financial and physical means. If you are concerned that there may be a fire in your home, please call 9-1-1.
Can PFD recommend local electricians or handymen with smoke alarm experience?
Unfortunately, we are not able to recommend particular electricians or handymen. We encourage you to ask friends for referrals, or use the Internet or phone directory to find local options. Likewise, we cannot recommend particular brands of smoke alarms or alarm systems.