Dear Consumer Ed:
By law, is it the landlord’s responsibility to provide a fire extinguisher and smoke detectors in the apartment?
Consumer Ed says:
For the answer to this question, we consulted the Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner.
Your landlord is required to provide a fire extinguisher in either the common areas of your apartment complex or in your apartment unit. In addition, an apartment, house or condominium must contain a smoke detector. The smoke detector(s) must be located on the ceiling or wall at a point centrally located in the corridor or other area giving access to each group of rooms used for sleeping. If the dwelling has more than one story, detectors are required on each story including cellars and basements, but not including uninhabitable attics. The detectors must be listed and meet the installation requirements of the NFPA 72 (the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code) and the fire safety commission. The law is enforced by local building and fire code officials.
While landlords are required to provide these installations, tenants are required to keep the smoke detector in good working order. The National Fire Protection Association offers the following guidelines for testing and maintaining smoke detectors:
- Smoke alarms should be maintained according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button.
- Make sure everyone in the home understands the sound of the smoke alarm and knows how to respond.
- Follow manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning to keep smoke alarms working well. The instructions are included in the package or can be found on the internet.
- Smoke alarms with non-replaceable 10-year batteries are designed to remain effective for up to 10 years. If the alarm chirps, warning that the battery is low, replace the entire smoke alarm right away.
- Smoke alarms with any other type of battery need a new battery at least once a year. If that alarm chirps, warning the battery is low, replace the battery right away.
- When replacing a battery, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Manufacturer’s instructions are specific to the batteries (brand and model) that must be used. The smoke alarm may not work properly if a different kind of battery is used.
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