Most Alberta homes have at least one smoke alarm, but residents often don’t know how old the alarms are, or if they need to be replaced.
A recent survey by the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) showed that only a small percentage of people know how old their smoke alarms are, or how often they need to be replaced. That lack of awareness is a concern for the Banff Fire Department, along with fire departments throughout the country, because smoke alarms don’t last forever.
“Time and again, I’ve seen the life-saving impact smoke alarms can have in a home fire, but I’ve also seen the tragedy that can result when smoke alarms aren’t working properly,” says Asst. Chief Fraser Kirby of the Banff Fire Department. “That’s why we’re making a concerted effort to educate Banff residents about the overall importance of smoke alarms, and that they do have a life limit.”
The Alberta Fire Code requires smoke alarms be replaced at least every 10 years, but because the public is generally unaware of this requirement, many homes and businesses have smoke alarms past their expiration date, putting people at increased risk.
As the official sponsor of Fire Prevention Week for more than 90 years, NFPA is promoting this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Don’t Wait – Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years,” to better educate the public about the critical importance of knowing how old their smoke alarms are and replacing them once they’re 10 years old.
To find out how old your smoke alarm is and its expiration date, simply look on the back of the alarm where the date of manufacture is marked. The smoke alarm should be replaced 10 years from that date (not the date of purchase). The Banff Fire Department also says smoke alarms should be tested monthly, and that batteries should be replaced once a year or when they begin to chirp, signaling that they’re running low.
To highlight the need to replace old smoke alarms, the Banff Fire Department is visiting local schools and daycares during Fire Prevention Week October 9-15, 2016. They’re also hosting their annual Open House and Free Pancake Breakfast at the Banff Fire Hall on Saturday, October 15. The event will include educational opportunities, a vehicle extrication demonstration, visits from SPARKY the fire dog and free pancakes and sausages from Melissa’s.
For more information on smoke alarms and this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, visit firepreventionweek.org or banff.ca/firedepartment.