A state law will require homeowners and businesses to upgrade their smoke detectors when installing new ones or replacing their old ones.
The General Business Law was amended in February 2016, changing the start date for the law from January 2017 to April 2019. The law allows existing battery-operated smoke detectors to remain but will prevent stores from selling new ones starting in April. Landlords and homeowners looking to sell their properties will also have to make the switch before they can rent or sell.
“It shall be unlawful for any person or entity to distribute, sell, offer for sale, or import any solely battery operated smoke detecting alarm device powered by a replaceable, removable battery not capable of powering such device for a minimum of 10 years,” according to the law.
Local fire officials see several benefits to the new law, mainly saving lives and property.
“The lifespan [for the newer models] is 10 years, which alleviates human error,” First Assistant Catskill Fire Chief Patrick McCulloch said.
Hudson Fire Chief Anthony DeMarco echoed similar remarks.
“I think it’s a good idea,” he said. “It takes some of the human factor out of it. ‘Change the clock, change the batteries’ has been our slogan for years, but that doesn’t mean it’s getting done.”
McCulloch agreed the batteries in the existing models should be changed when the time changes in the spring and fall, or twice a year, and the smoke detectors should be replaced after 10 years.
After 10 years, homeowners should dispose of the old smoke detectors and replace them, DeMarco said.
“It makes the whole process simpler and safer,” he said. “It’s one less thing to think about. It’s hard enough to remember what to do on a daily basis, not to mention every six months.”
“It is still a good idea to test them [the 10-year models] once or twice a year,” McCulloch said.
Recommendations for where to place smoke and carbon monoxide detectors depend on building code, McCulloch said.
“There should be one in every common area,” McCullough said.
At $20, the new 10-year models are more expensive than the battery-operated units, which are around $5.
Despite the price difference, Greenport Fire Chief John Onufrychuk believes the new 10-year models required by the new law will prevent fires and save lives.
“It’s a good idea because when we go to people’s houses they haven’t changed their batteries or sometimes the alarms don’t work because they’ve taken out the batteries and put them in Christmas toys,” Onufrychuk said. “It’s unfortunate because that’s what will save their lives.”