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Smoke Detectors

Maintenance Requirements for Battery-Powered Smoke Detectors Installed in R1 Occupancies"

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The Vacaville Fire Protection District has developed a fire protection plan that includes public and private responsibility. The District has established a "normal fire control capability" by building a fire suppression force, providing firefighting equipment, and by developing support services necessary to cope with an anticipated fire risk. Above that anticipated level of fire risk, built in protection will be provided by the private sector.

Section 1001.5.1.3 of the Vacaville Fire Protection District Fire Code requires the property owner to maintain and service smoke detectors to ensure that they are operational at all times.

All new construction now requires that smoke detectors be hard wired into the building's electrical system (A.C. powered). Some smoke detectors are both A.C. powered with battery backup. In existing dwelling units, where A.C. powered smoke detectors were not required, the Vacaville Fire Protection District allowed the use of battery powered smoke detector(s) when it was impractical to install A.C. powered models.

All smoke detectors shall be listed and approved by the State Fire Marshal and detectors shall be installed in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. This policy establishes the minimumresponsibilities of the properly owner for maintenance and servicing of battery powered smoke detectors.

The Vacaville Fire Protection District requires that battery powered smoke detectors be checked at least once every three months (quarterly), batteries must be replaced at least annually, or when needed, and a record of the maintenance checks and battery changes must be kept. It shall be the responsibility of the property owner to inspect, test, maintain, and service all battery powered smoke detectors once every three months (quarterly).

EXCEPTION: Listed and approved smoke detectors having a service life of at least ten (10) years, such as non removable lithium battery powered detectors, shall be inspected and tested at least annually.

The property owner can delegate this responsibility, in writing, to a responsible person/agent (property manager, on site manager, complex maintenance person) or organization.

  • Three (3) of the four (4) required quarterly checks (visual inspection for damage and test detector by pushing the test button) can be delegated, in writing (could include in rental/lease contract) to the tenant when they are given proper instructions and training.
  • You cannot delegate the responsibility for servicing, repairing and annual battery replacement of the detectors to a tenant.
  • Quarterly checks and testing cannot be delegated to hotel/motel guests.

Once every three months (quarterly): Smoke detectors shall be inspected, tested and maintained in an operative condition, in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions, at all times and shall be replaced or repaired where defective. This includes replacing the battery in every smoke detector once each year.

EXCEPTION: Listed and approved smoke detectors having a service life of at least ten (10) years, such as lithium battery powered detectors, shall be inspected and tested at least annually. Battery replacement is not required for sealed units and the detector must be replaced when the low battery signal sounds.

A record of all inspections, testing, and maintenance shall be kept by the property owner or his/her agent. These records shall be made available to a fire inspector upon request. Quarterly inspections, testing and maintenance logs shall be maintained for every individual unit or address.

The following maintenance information should be recorded. Records shall be maintained for two (2) years.

  • Address and suite number
  • Date of testing.
  • Type of inspection, testing or maintenance. (Quarterly, Annually or Service Request)
  • Total number of detectors in dwelling unit.
  • If battery was changed. (Battery shall be labeled to reflect the date it was placed in the detector)
  • If detector was replaced.
  • Date battery was changed or detector was replaced.
  • Method of testing. (./ box Pressed test button, used canned test smoke, etc.)
  • Comments. (Detector relocated, battery chirping, detector missing, etc.)
  • Name of person performing inspection, test, and/or maintenance and signature.

NOTE: Tenants should be encouraged to test the detectors in their dwelling units more frequently than once every three months. The National Fire Protection Association's fire alarm standard recommends that detectors be tested once a month.

Revised and approved by Fire Captain Tim Walton, July 10, 2001

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