Smoke detectors

A smoke detector, otherwise known as a smoke alarm, alerts the occupants of a home with an audible signal in case of smoke, so they can react quickly and save lives. In case of fire, you have less than three minutes to evacuate your home.

All smoke detectors must meet Canadian standards and display the Underwriters Laboratories of Canada "ULC" logo.

Types of detectors

Ask your fire department This hyperlink will open in a new window. about the type of smoke detector authorized by municipal regulations.

The ionization smoke detector is ideal for bedrooms and hallways as it is more sensitive to fumes and smoke.

The photoelectric smoke detector is ideal near the kitchen and bathroom because it is less sensitive to fumes and smoke.

The strobe light detector is recommended for rooms where an occupant is hard of hearing. It combines sound and light.

Types of power supply for detectors

The battery-operated detector is the most common such device. It works with a 10-volt battery. Choose models with lithium batteries, which have a life span of 10 years.  

The electric detector, connected to 120 volts, should also contain a backup battery to operate in case of power failure.

Contact your municipality to find out the regulations in effect concerning the type of smoke detector recommended and its installation instructions.

Where to install the detectors

Everyone in your home should hear the detectors when they go off.

In which rooms should they be installed?

It is advisable to have a detector

  • on each floor, including the basement.
  • in the hallway near the bedrooms.
  • in every room where you sleep with the door closed.
  • near the stairs.

Floors higher than 10 metres (33 feet) should have two detectors, one at each end.

Where should they be fixed?

Smoke detectors must be installed

  • on the ceiling, a minimum of 10 centimetres (4 inches) from the wall or
  • on the wall, 10 to 30 centimetres (4 to 12 inches) from the ceiling.
  • within 1 metre (40 inches) of a fan, an air conditioner, or an air intake or return. The air displacement caused by these devices can repel smoke and interfere with the operation of the detector.
  • without obstruction so that the smoke can reach the detector.

If you have electric smoke alarms, make sure they are interconnected and that they activate simultaneously, regardless of where the smoke or fire is coming from. If they are not interconnected, contact a qualified electrician to rectify the situation.

Smoke alarms connected to an electrical circuit cannot be replaced by a battery-operated model.

Checking and maintenance

Every month, test your detectors by pressing the test button for a few seconds to hear the beep. If your smoke detectors are connected to a monitoring centre, notify your provider first before testing.

Each year, you need to

  • clean battery-operated devices by lightly vacuuming the inside and outside of the casing.
  • clean photoelectric devices on the outside only, as they should never be opened.
  • test the smoke detector's capacity to detect smoke by approaching the device, while keeping a safe distance, with a candle that has just been extinguished and is producing smoke.

Never paint the detectors.

Use long-life batteries such as lithium batteries or use rechargeable batteries only if recommended by the device manufacturer.

Replace smoke detector batteries when you hear an intermittent beeping sound and when you move into a new home.

Because smoke alarms have a limited life span, you must replace them every 10 years from the date of manufacture.

Detectors connected to a remote monitoring centre

For optimal protection, have your smoke detectors connected to a remote monitoring centre that will transmit fire alarms directly to 911.

Choose photoelectric detectors and have them installed away from kitchens, fireplaces, and bathrooms, as smoke, fumes, or steam could trigger an unwarranted alarm and unnecessary travel for firefighters.

Make sure all occupants are familiar with the system and write the phone number of your monitoring centre next to the control panel.

Notify your monitoring centre after a power outage or telephone failure. Then do a test to make sure the detector alarms are working properly.

False alarm

Before cancelling the fire alarm, you should quickly check why the detector went off.

Consider all alarms to be valid until proven otherwise.

If you are certain that the alarm is unfounded and your alarm has the cancel delay feature, you have between 30 and 120 seconds (depending on programming) to dial your access code to cancel the alarm.

If your system does not have a cancel function, call your monitoring centre.

Never remove the batteries from a detector that goes off too often near a kitchen or bathroom. Instead, move the detector a bit further away from these two spaces.

Last update: February 23, 2023


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