Maryland New Smoke Alarm Law

Maryland's Smoke Alarm Law: FAQ

As of January 1, 2018, the Maryland Law requires ALL Maryland residents to have 10-year lithium battery tamper resistant smoke alarms with the silence/hush on every level of their home. Maryland's new Smoke Alarm law has raised some questions and concerns with city residents, here are Baltimore City Fire Department's FAQs to clarify the law and what it means for you.  

How am I affected by the new law?
For New Construction Maryland’s Smoke Alarm Law has simply been updated to correspond with the International Residential Code and NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code. An AC powered, battery back-up smoke alarm is required in every bedroom, in the common area outside of the bedrooms and on every other level of the dwelling unit, with all of the required smoke alarms being interconnected.sa
For homes constructed PRIOR to July 1, 1975: Under the old law, for homes constructed prior to July 1, 1975, a smoke alarm was required outside each sleeping area. The smoke alarm could be battery- operated or hardwired. Under the new law, for smoke alarms that are battery-operated, the units need to be replaced/upgraded with new, sealed, long-life smoke alarms equipped with a hush feature. For homes constructed between July 1, 1975 and June 30, 1990:
For homes constructed between July 1, 1975 and June 30, 1990, an AC-powered smoke alarm was required in each sleeping area. The requirement that the AC- powered smoke alarms have a battery back-up became effective July 1, 1990. Smoke alarms installed during this time period should have been replaced after 10-years of service under the existing law and, after July 1, 1990, replacement alarms were equipped with a battery backup. Note: At the time the new law was signed, hard-wired smoke alarms are currently manufactured with a 9v battery back-up. It is anticipated that hard-wired smoke alarms will incorporate long-life, 10- year batteries in the near future.
For new homes constructed AFTER January 1, 1989: Any new home in Maryland constructed after January 1, 1989 required at least one hard-wired, AC-powered smoke alarm on every level of the home, including the basement and required that the units to be interconnected in order that activation of any one of the required smoke alarms resulted in the sounding of all the required smoke alarms. The requirement that the AC-powered smoke alarms have a battery back-up became effective July 1, 1990.

If I am a renter and not a homeowner, may I have free smoke alarms installed in my home by the Baltimore City Fire Department?
As of May 1, 2018, the Baltimore City Fire Department will fully enforce the new Maryland Smoke Alarm Law that states it’s the responsibility of the property owner/landlord to comply and make sure their property is code compliant. Landlords of one-and two-dwelling units also face new requirements. It is the responsibility of the landlord to have smoke alarms installed in their properties. They must upgrade battery smoke alarms to new, 10-year lithium battery tamper resistant smoke alarms in units whenever there’s a change in occupancy or when those systems are 10 years old or malfunction. Landlords for buildings with more than two units are also affected. The legislation assigns tenants of those units responsible for testing the smoke alarms and notifying their landlords of any problems. Where problems occur, the landlords are required to replace or repair the broken systems.  

As a renter, what should I do to ensure that my landlord installs smoke alarms in my home?
Under the Public Safety Article of the Maryland Code, § 9-106, on the enforcement of smoke alarm requirements, the landlord/property owner is responsible for the installation, repair, maintenance, and replacement of smoke alarms required by the "Smoke Detection Systems" section of the law. The testing of smoke alarms is the responsibility of the occupant of the residential unit. A tenant shall notify the landlord in writing of the failure or malfunction of a required smoke alarm.  

The written notification required for this shall be delivered by certified mail, return receipt requested to the landlord, or by hand delivery to the landlord or the landlord's agent, at the address used for the payment of rent. If the delivery of the notification is made by hand as described here, the landlord or the landlord's agent shall provide to the tenant a written receipt for delivery. The landlord shall provide written acknowledgment of the notification and shall repair or replace the smoke alarm within five (5) calendar days after the notification. 

As a renter, what should I do if I notify my landlord as described above, but they do not install/repair/replace smoke alarms in my home?

If your landlord fails to install/repair/replace smoke alarms in your home as required, you should call 3-1-1 to schedule a smoke alarm installation. Once that has been completed, you should contact the Office of the Fire Marshal at 410-396-5752 and provide your landlord’s name and phone number, as well as the date you contacted your landlord. Inform the Fire Marshal’s Office that your landlord has been properly notified of your request for code compliant smoke alarms and has refused to take corrective action. After which, an inspector will visit the location to initiate corrective action. 

How many smoke alarms should I have?
Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home, including the basement. It is recommended that a smoke alarm is installed in every sleeping area. 

Where should they be installed?
Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home. To reduce the risk of nuisance alarms, place smoke alarms at least 20 feet away from combustion appliances like furnaces and stovetops and at least 10 feet away from humidity-prone areas like bathrooms and laundry rooms. Remember, most home fire deaths occur when people are asleep.

I'm ready to change my smoke alarm batteries. Which kind do I need?
The new Maryland law requires all homeowners to install 10-year lithium battery tamper resistant smoke alarms with the silence/hush feature in their homes.

What is the silence/hush feature?
The silence/hush feature will allow you to silence an accidental alarm for up to 10 minutes before turning itself back on. The silence/hush feature will eliminate the need to remove the smoke alarm battery.

Can I interconnect my hardwired smoke alarms?
Interconnected smoke alarms communicate with each other so that if one sounds, they all go off. If you live in a newer home, you probably already have interconnected smoke alarms. If not, you should consult a technician to install interconnected alarms for the best protection. Interconnected, hardwired smoke alarms with battery backups are the most reliable.

When Should I replace my smoke alarms?
It’s recommended that you replace all your smoke alarms every 10 years. Any smoke alarm over 10-years-old is unsafe an unreliable.

Where can I get the 10-year lithium battery operated smoke alarm?
Homeowners who reside in Baltimore City can dial 3-1-1 to schedule an appointment to have smoke alarms installed on every level of their home. 

Click to read the Maryland Updates Smoke Alarm Law  PDF icon 2018 Smoke Alarm Law

Click to for the New Smoke Alarm Law Explained: PDF icon Smoke Alarm Law Explained