Anyone who has ever sold a house in Massachusetts knows that the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors need to be certified by local fire officials before the deed can be transferred to a new owner.
Nightly News with Brian Williams recently broadcasted a story regarding the dangers of ionic smoke detectors. It demonstrated that ionic smoke detectors are not as good at detecting slowly progressing fires that create smoke over a shorter period of time. The story featured a tragic story of three sleeping children who lost their lives to smoke inhalation as a result of an ionic detector that did not alert them of the impending danger.
The commonwealth recognizes the benefits of photo-electric smoke detectors. Since 2010, Massachusetts General Laws require the use of photo-electric smoke detectors, which NBC News demonstrated work better at detecting smoke than ionic ones . However, ionic smoke-detectors work better with faster flaming fires and are still required too.
The smoke-detector requirements in MA vary depending on when your home was built, but there is a common theme among the different requirements as it pertains to the installation of ionic and photo-electric detectors. It depends on the proximity of the detector to kitchens or bathrooms.
Ionic smoke detectors will sometimes go off as a result from the steam created by running hot water. Therefore, if a smoke-detector is located within 20 feet of a kitchen or a bathroom, a photo-electric smoke detector is required. However, if a detector is located beyond 20 feet of a kitchen or a bathroom, the detector must be either a dual-detector that utilizes both ionic and photo-electric technologies or two different smoke-detectors must be installed. This is usually the case in the basement at the base of the stairs. The commonwealth requires that smoke-detectors be installed on the ceiling at the base of stairs.
Although getting a smoke certificate is required for the sale of a property, it is a good idea to see if you are in compliance with the new regulations even if you have no intention of selling as it could save your life.
For the complete regulations click here for a copy of the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services guide. It also includes information regarding the proper placement of carbon monoxide detectors.