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Chirp no more: Illinois law eliminates need to replace smoke alarm batteries

Time and time again, smoke alarms have been proven to save lives in the event of a fire, and a new Illinois law will decrease incidents of alarm malfunction.
Credit: Adobe Stock
Close-up smoke detector on a ceiling

GALESBURG, Ill. — Time and time again, smoke alarms have been proven to save lives in the event of a fire. 

Nearly three out of every five home fire deaths occurred in homes with no alarms or alarms that failed to go off, according to the National Fire Protection Association's 2021 Smoke Alarms in U.S. Home Fires report, and the death rate in home structure fires was 55% lower in homes with working alarms.

All homes in Illinois have been required to have smoke detectors since 1988, according to the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance. And federal safety codes have required smoke alarms installed in every bedroom as well as outside of every sleeping area on all levels of a home, according to the NFPA.

In light of technological advancements, Illinois House Bill 3773 was passed back in 2017 to make crucial safety updates to the state's Smoke Detector Act.

A new provision stated that all battery-powered smoke alarms (i.e. those that aren't hardwired) must be replaced with alarms that feature self-contained, non-removeable, 10-year batteries. These newly required batteries last the entire decade-long lifespan of a smoke alarm without having to be changed, according to the IFSA, so that means no more getting up on a ladder or waking up to surprise low-battery chirps and less instances of alarm failure.

Not having to change the batteries out also means saving Illinois residents money.

“With a long-term 10-year battery smoke alarm, there is no need for battery replacement, saving the average homeowner between $40-60 in battery costs over the life of each alarm," IFSA Executive Director Philip Zaleski said in a Friday news release. "They are also very affordable with the current retail price being about $15 and as low as $10 if you buy them in bulk."

The new law will be effective starting Jan. 1, 2023. However, homes built after 1988 that already have hardwired smoke alarms and those with wireless interconnected alarms that use radio frequency or Wi-Fi are exempt from the requirement, according to the IFSA.

The Galesburg Fire Department, according to its Facebook page, offers free 10-year battery smoke alarms to Galesburg residents and will personally come out to install them in your home. 

Those interested can call 309-345-3716.

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