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Every smoke alarm has an expiration date; what’s yours?

By Staff | Oct 20, 2016

Firefighters show how they attack a burning structure fire at last year’s Fire Prevention Week demonstration. PHOTO BY THE COUNTY OF MAUI, LOIS WHITNEY.

KAHULUI – Does your home have a smoke alarm? National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) research shows that most American homes have at least one, but do you know how old your smoke alarms are? If you are like most people, you’re probably not so sure.

A recent survey conducted by NFPA revealed that only a small percentage of people know how old their smoke alarms are, or how often they need to be replaced. That lack of awareness is a concern for the Maui Fire Department and NFPA, along with fire departments throughout the country, because smoke alarms don’t last forever.

“Time and again, I’ve seen the life-saving impact smoke alarms can have in a home fire, but I’ve also seen the tragedy that can result when smoke alarms aren’t working properly,” said Maui Fire Chief Jeffery Murray. “That’s why we’re making a concerted effort to educate Maui County residents about the overall importance of smoke alarms and that they do have a life limit.”

NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm Code, requires smoke alarms be replaced at least every ten years, but because the public is generally unaware of this requirement, many homes have smoke alarms past their expiration date, putting people at increased risk.

As the official sponsor of Fire Prevention Week for more than 90 years, NFPA is promoting this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign – “Don’t Wait-Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years” – to better educate the public about the critical importance of knowing how old their smoke alarms are and replacing them once they’re ten years old.

Fire Prevention Week was Oct. 9-15, 2016. The county Department of Fire and Public Safety is hosting a fire prevention demonstration at the Keopuolani Horse Shoe Pit on Oct. 28 at 9:30 a.m. in support of Fire Prevention Week and this year’s campaign.

The event will include a fire safety presentation, “Tools of the Trade” exhibition, fire trucks and the Air 1 rescue helicopter on display, and a visit from Sparky the Fire Dog and Smokey Bear.

To find out how old your smoke alarm is and its expiration date, simply look on the back of the alarm where the date of manufacture is marked. The smoke alarm should be replaced ten years from that date (not the date of purchase).

Maui Fire Department strongly urges that smoke alarms be tested monthly, and that batteries be replaced once a year or when they begin to chirp, signaling that they’re running low.

For more information on smoke alarms, visit www.firepreventionweek.org or contact Parrish Purdy, fire inspector and public education officer, at 876-4697 or email parrish.purdy@mauicounty.gov.