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Smoke Alarm Upgrades Mandatory

Under new requirements, property owners in Milwaukee must install smoke alarms that are powered by 10-year or greater, non-removable batteries, in a measure aimed at saving lives. Under the ordinance approved by the Common Council, the old smoke detector models that use nine-volt batteries will be phased out due to concerns that, too often, the batteries are not replaced or are removed for use in other devices. This is in the wake of numerous tragedies in recent years where Milwaukee residents unnecessarily lost their lives because there was not a functioning smoke detector in the house.

Property owners will be required to meet the new requirements when they replace smoke alarms on their property, or by October 1, 2017 at the very latest. Any smoke alarm located within 20 feet or the primary cooking appliance within the unit is required to be equipped with a silencing switch. Smoke alarms that plug-in or are hardwired are exempted from the upgrade requirement.

Additionally, every battery-operated smoke alarm must now be tested by the property owner not less than once every calendar year. The owner must provide a copy of test results to city officials upon request, and test results should include the date on which testing was performed and the name, telephone number and property relationship of the person who performed the test.

For those who may encounter financial difficulties equipping their homes with the proper smoke alarm, the city offers hardship assistance. Residents can call the Smoke Detector Hotline at 286-8980 to see if they might be eligible for a free smoke alarm to comply with the new requirements.