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Home | Most Popular | Smoke Alarms - A Good Requirement of . . .

Smoke Alarms - A Good Requirement of the 2006 International Residential Code for Dwellings

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Section 313.1 Smoke detection and notification

  • Smoke alarms shall be listed in accordance with UL 217. UL 217 can be found at
  • All smoke alarms are to be installed as per the 2006 IRC and NFPA 72.
  • With regards to NFPA 72, this includes smoke alarms, or a combination of smoke alarms and audible detectors.

NFPA 72 - Article 11.8 - Installation

  • As stated above all smoke alarms are to be installed as per NFPA 72. Listed below are graphics showing the correct locations where to install the smoke alarms. Addition requirements as to where smoke alarms can not be installed are as follows:
      • Shall not be located where ambient conditions, including humidity and temperature, are outside the limits of the manufacturer's requirements
      • Shall not be located in areas where temperatures fall below 40 degrees F or exceed 100 degrees F
      • Shall not be mounted on a poorly insulated surface that may become considerably cooler or warmer than the room it is in. For example, if the ceiling is poorly insulated, then the smoke should be mounted on a wall
      • If a smoke alarm is installed within 20'-0" horizontally of a cooking appliance, the smoke alarm shall be equipped with a alarm-silencing means or be of the photoelectric type
      • Shall not be installed within 3'-0" horizontally from a door to a kitchen or a bathroom containing a tub or shower
      • Shall not be installed within 3'-0" horizontally from the supply registers of a forced air heating or cooling system and shall not be installed within the direct airflow of these registers. It does not discuss return air registers
      • Shall not be installed within 3'-0" horizontally from the tip of the blade of a ceiling-suspended (paddle) fan.


Proper Flat Ceiling or Wall Installation


Proper Installation at Peaked Ceilings



Proper Installation at Sloped Ceilings

  • If someone uses a proprietary fire and or smoke alarm system, they must be required evidence that they own all of the equipment as well as the control panel. In other words, if the homeowner moves or discontinues their service that all of the equipment and control panels stay in the dwelling. Also, the homeowner must prove that if the system is disconnected to the monitoring service that the proprietary system will work locally. If this can not be proven, then standard smoke alarms will be required to be installed separately from the proprietary system.

Section R313.2 Location

  • Smoke alarms shall be located in each sleeping room, immediately outside of each sleeping room and on each additional story of the dwelling or basement.
  • The smoke alarms are to be interconnected so if one alarm goes off, they all go off in the dwelling unit.

Section R313.2.1 Alterations, repairs and additions

  • This is an area that a lot of people overlook. If someone is altering or repairing the interior (not exterior) of a dwelling that requires a permit and the proper amount of working smoke alarms are not present in the dwelling, then the existing dwelling shall be equipped with smoke alarms as if it is a new structure. This would also hold true if you are adding onto the dwelling.
  • Interconnecting of the smoke alarms and hard wiring of the smoke alarms are not required in this instance if it is technically infeasible to install them without the removal of the interior wall or ceiling finishes. The smoke alarms still must be installed, but can be battery operated only. There have been very few times where this has taken place due to the fact the average electrician and fish the wiring into the existing walls and ceilings will not problems.

Section R313.3 Power source

  • The power for the smoke alarms shall come from the main commercial power source of the new dwelling.
  • If the commercial power source is interrupted for any reason, each smoke alarm shall have a battery backup for the continued operation of the smoke alarms.
  • No disconnecting switch for the circuit the smoke alarms are on are allowed except for the overcurrent protection device (circuit breaker).
  • Battery only operated smoke detectors can be used as listed above and when a dwelling unit is not served with a commercial power source.

Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Protection

2006 IRC - Section E3802.12 Arc-fault protection of bedroom outlets

2005 National Electrical Code - Article 210.12(B) Dwelling Unit Bedrooms

  • Another area that deals with smoke alarms is the use of Arc-Fault protection. The codes state, "All 120-volt, single phase, 15- and 20-ampere branch circuits supplying outlets installed in dwelling unit bedrooms shall be protected by arc-fault. The key word in making the determination as to whether or not a smoke alarm is to be arc-fault protected is "outlets". There is no definition in the 2006 IRC for "outlet", but in the 2005 NEC, it states: "Outlet - A point on the wiring system at which current is taken to supply utilization equipment." Then you look at "utilization equipment" and it states: "Utilization Equipment - Equipment that utilizes electric energy for electronic, electromechanical, chemical, heating, lighting, or similar purposes." Based on this analogy, smoke alarms are definitely required to be arc-fault protected.

So there you have it, when smoke alarms are required and how they are to be installed. This is another tip from


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