Smoke detectors are an essential fire safety measure, and yet an estimated one-third of smoke detectors in U.S. homes don't work properly. While a broken fire alarm will not cause a fire, it certainly won't notify occupants to evacuate the residence. At Wyatt Law Firm, our San Antonio personal injury attorneys have represented many people harmed by residential fires.
How often should I check my smoke detector?
The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends that you check smoke detectors every month, at minimum. All smoke detectors are different, but generally the batteries need to be replaced in these devices twice a year. Most smoke detectors emit a beeping noise when the batteries are running low and need to be replaced.
How your smoke detector functions will also differ depending on type – whether it takes batteries or is hardwired to the building's electrical system. In either case, smoke detectors should be tested periodically to ensure they are functioning properly. If they get too old, they will need to be replaced completely.
Responsibility of Property Owners
In Texas, landlords have a duty to inspect and repair smoke alarms in residential, leased dwellings. If you notice that your smoke alarm is not working or working properly, notify your landlord so that they can repair or replace it. State and municipal law dictates smoke detector requirements.
Texas Smoke Detector Law: Health and Safety Code 766.002
According to Texas Health and Safety Code Sec. 766.002,
Each one-family or two-family dwelling constructed in this state must have working smoke detectors installed in the dwelling in accordance with the smoke detector requirements of the building code in effect in the political subdivision in which the dwelling is located, including performance, location, and power source requirements.
Since each "political subdivision" has unique fire codes, San Antonio has its own requirements for smoke detectors – these are found in Section 704.2 of San Antonio's International Property Maintenance Code.
The Importance of Contacting a Personal Injury Attorney
In residential fire cases caused or exacerbated by a missing or defective smoke detector, it can be difficult to determine who is at fault. Factors that make these cases complex include –
- When the building was constructed (will determine if smoke alarm requirements apply)
- Where the building is located (which political subdivision's codes apply)
- What the building is classified as (boarding house, retirement home, apartment complex, etc.)
Residential fire cases involving defective smoke detectors are best handled by an attorney experienced in these types of cases. Wyatt Law Firm's personal injury lawyers have handled many of these cases successfully for clients. Contact us today for a free review of your case – there is no fee unless we win your case!