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Smoke Detector Safety

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 every 6 months, or sooner if the alarm is chirping.

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 about 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 alarms and independent 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 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 batteries are sealed, which prevents anyone from tampering with the detector or removing the battery for any reason.  We call them “low maintenance, high protection” batteries.   

Does Pflugerville Fire Department (PFD) provide free smoke alarms?

Anyone who lives in our service area and indicates they lack the financial means to purchase a smoke alarm is welcome to visit our Administration Building (203 E. Pecan St., Pflugerville) during business hours to pick up ONE free smoke alarm.

Will PFD come help me test or install my alarms?

Residents who would like help with their monthly smoke alarm tests are asked to please get assistance from a neighbor, caregiver, or handyman. 

If you don’t currently have ANY working smoke alarms and lack the financial means to purchase/install one, please feel free to call our non-emergency number (512) 281-2501 to request that we come install ONE alarm. Please note that while we are visiting your home, we will not be able to check or work on multiple alarms, and we will not be able to do a home safety survey.

If you would like to learn more about fire safety, you are encouraged to call the Community Outreach Coordinator at (512) 989-4550, who can share information with you over the phone or via email.

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 do not visit homes to change smoke alarm batteries. However, in the case of a fire the alarm should make a different sound, a loud long “beep." 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?

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 smoke alarms or alarm systems.

 

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