Smoke detectors and C02 detectors are mandated as required in every rental home, but unfortunately they often stop working, become inoperable, or the batteries fail. Because inoperable detectors is one of the most severe health code violations in rental homes, and not having an operable detector could affect the safety of the residents, it is extremely important to make sure that you regularly test and check your detectors.
Check Installation Locations
The National Fire Protection Association recommends installing a smoke alarm in every bedroom, and on every level of a home. This may sound expensive, but the typical smoke alarm lasts for at least 7 years, and sometimes as much as 10. Installing smoke alarms in hallways just outside of sleeping areas is also a good idea. Usually it is not a good idea to put a smoke detector in kitchens due to false alarms due to toast and other items, but place one inside of the hallway outside of the kitchen in case of a more serious fire.
Mandate Regular Testing
Whether you ask your tenants or do it yourself, it is important to test detectors regularly. The recommended rate is once monthly, but you can also set up with your maintenance crew to check the detectors each time they service the unit, or whenever they deal with an emergency. This ensures that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors remain in good shape and will work if needed. The more units you have, the more time consuming testing smoke detectors is, so asking maintenance to do it regularly, or combining it with other maintenance tasks is a good way to go.
Change Batteries Yearly
The batteries in smoke detectors can last for years, but they might not. The best practice is to replace them once yearly rather than waiting for an alert that they are starting to die. If the smoke detector chirps before the year is out, replace the batteries immediately.
Sending out a newsletter or emailing a letter to tenants about checking their fire alarm, testing it to ensure that they know what it sounds like and how to respond, and sending out other important fire safety information such as how to get out of the house when the fire alarm sounds is also important for fire safety.
Get a Fire Inspection
The Issaquah Fire Department offers fire inspections, but does require a 48 hour prior notice. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Inspections Request” in the subject line, your permit number, the address of the building, an onsite phone number, the type of inspection, and the preferred date of the inspection, although dates and times will be up to the fire department.
Detector testing is part of the routine maintenance handled by Issaquah property management companies, so if you have one, then this is not an issue that you have to worry about. If you do not have a property management company, make sure that you have enough detectors in each unit before getting an inspection.