Office of the
State Fire Marshal

Smoke Detectors

Battery Operated

What is the Smoke Detector Law?

Delaware Code, Title 16, Chapter 66, Section 6631 requires the installation of smoke detectors on EACH level of ALL one- and two-family dwellings, mobile homes, modular homes, and townhouses. This law required ALL residential occupancies to have the required smoke detection devices installed by July 1, 1994.

Diagram of where smoke detectors should be placed in a home.

Who must install smoke detectors?

The owners of ALL…

  • One- and Two-Family Homes
  • Mobile Homes
  • Modular Homes
  • Townhouses

These individuals must install the required number of smoke detectors. In a rented or leased living unit where there are battery powered smoke detectors, the OWNERS must install the smoke detectors. Where the rental or lease agreement is for a period of one month or more, the TENANT is responsible to maintain the battery in the smoke detector.

Why install smoke detectors?

Smoke detectors should be installed, not because it is the law, but because properly installed and maintained smoke detectors will save your life and the lives of your family.

How many smoke detectors are needed?

The number of smoke detectors is determined by:

  1. The number of levels in the home; and
  2. The number and location of bedrooms.

Where should smoke detectors be installed?

Install a smoke detector:

  1. on each level of the home, including the basement.
  2. outside each bedroom or group of bedrooms.

In either case, follow the manufacturer’s specifications for installation. They will tell you exactly where to mount the smoke detectors and what inspection, testing and maintenance is required.

Picture of the Underwriters Laboratory logo

What type of smoke detector should be purchased?

A smoke detector can be either the photoelectric or ionization type, but both are designed to sense the visible and invisible particles of smoke and gas from fire. Make sure the smoke detector is listed by Underwriters Laboratory, Factory Mutual or any other nationally recognized testing laboratory through the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation. Read the package carefully and look for a listed laboratory symbol.

What type of power source is needed?

Residential occupancies constructed prior to July 8, 1993 are required to have individual, single station, battery powered smoke detectors. Residential occupancies constructed after July 8, 1993 are required to have “hard-wired” smoke detectors. This means a licensed electrician must install the smoke detectors so that they are powered by household electricity. If there is more than one smoke detector, they must be wired so that if one smoke detector sounds, they all will sound.

When a smoke detector sounds?

Being awakened by a smoke detector can be disorienting. How your family responds in a fire depends on how well you have prepared. Make sure everyone knows the sound of the detector’s alarm and how to respond. Plan escape routes in advance, and include at least two ways out of each room – especially the bedrooms. Decide on a safe location outside your home, and instruct all residents to meet there in the event of fire so you’ll be sure everyone is out. DO NOT go back into the building. Practice your escape plan at least twice a year.

Have one person call 9-1-1 from a neighbor’s phone. Tell the dispatcher your name, address, the exact location of the fire, and whether anyone is still in the building. Stay on the phone until the dispatcher tells you to hang up.

If your smoke detector sounds an alarm and there is no smoke present, the cooking in your kitchen, smoke from a fireplace or other non-threatening causes may be responsible. Do not remove any batteries! Fan the air away from the detector until the alarm stops. If this happens frequently, it may be necessary to relocate the detector or install a different type of detector.

If you have any other questions, or are in need of a free smoke alarm please contact the State Fire Marshal’s Office nearest you:

New Castle County
(302) 323-5365

Kent County
(302) 739-4394

Sussex County
(302) 856-5298

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