New smoke detector law goes into effect on January 1 in Illinois

Residential fires were responsible for 97 deaths in Illinois last year. In nearly 70% cases, the loss of life happened in homes without a working smoke alarms.
Photo illustration: Николай Егошин/Pixabay

SPRINGFIELD -- In two weeks, Illinois' updated Smoke Alarm Law goes into effect across the state. The new provisions, which applies to homes built before 1988, require any smoke alarm being installed within a single or multi-family home be replaced with models that have a sealed, non-removable 10-year battery.

"With a long-term 10-year battery smoke alarm, there is no need for battery replacement, saving the average homeowner between $40-$60 in battery costs over the life of each alarm," says Phil Zaleski, Executive Director for the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance. "At the end of the 10-year life cycle, the smoke alarm will automatically alert the homeowner to replace the alarm."

He added that, "While many people deactivate their older model smoke alarms or remove the batteries while cooking, the 10-year model is not a cooking nuisance and has a 15-minute silencer button.

Zaleski said in a release that required model is "very affordable with the current retail price being about $15 and as low as $10 if you buy them in bulk."

A quick on search on Amazon today shows 10-year, tamper-proof models retailing as low as $13 each. Order a six-pack, and the price drops to $8.33 each.

Passed in 2017, Public Act 100-0200 required all Illinois homes to have a smoke alarm with the extended-life battery by the first of next month. The bill states that "Every dwelling unit or hotel shall be equipped with at least one approved smoke detector in an operating condition within 15 feet of every room used for sleeping purposes. The detector shall be installed on the ceiling and at least 6 inches from any wall, or on a wall located between 4 and 6 inches from the ceiling."

To avoid ‘false alarms’ from the new detectors, they should not be placed within 15 feet of a stove or within 3 feet of bathrooms because of the humidity to avoid tripping the alarm.

Alarms already installed in dwellings are exempt if the manufactured date is less than 10-years old on date of inspection, does not fail testing, and is in proper operating condition. Residents or landlords replacing smoke detectors that are not hardwired in the home must do so with the new 10-year model. Homes with hardwired systems or systems connected to remote monitoring services are also exempt.

There were 97 residential fire deaths in Illinois in 2021, and nearly 70% of those deaths happened in homes without a working smoke alarm, according to Margaret Vaughn, Illinois Fire Safety Alliance and Illinois Fire Association government affairs director.

According to the bill, homeowners without an updated alarm will get a 90-day notice to install a sealed battery model. After that, they can be fined up to $100 every 30 days until the correct alarm(s) are installed. Also, homeowners and landlords should note the law makes it a Class B misdemeanor to not have a working smoke detector installed as required.

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