Ministry of the
Solicitor General

FAQ Smoke Alarms

Smoke Alarms

Can you recommend a smoke alarm and where I can buy one?

The Fire Marshal's Office cannot recommend a particular brand of smoke alarm. However, we do recommend that electrical smoke alarms (hard wired) and battery operated smoke alarms be U.L.C. listed. Products that have been evaluated by Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (U.L.C.), and found to meet their requirements carry the ULC mark. Most department or hardware stores carry a variety of smoke alarms.

Where should I install my smoke alarm?

Smoke alarm installation locations

The smoke alarm should be installed between each sleeping area and the remainder of the building or where a sleeping area is served by a hallway, install the alarm in the hall. Always install the smoke alarm on or near the ceiling in accordance with the manufacturer's installation instructions.

Effective March 1, 2006, it is the law for all Ontario homes to have a working smoke alarm on every storey and outside all sleeping areas. With this previously announced Fire Code amendment now in effect, it is hoped there will be a reduction of the number of preventable fire-related injuries and fatalities. The amendment covers single family, semi-detached and town homes, whether owner-occupied or rented.

How do I maintain my smoke alarm?

Install a new battery of the proper type at least once a year. If the low battery warning beeps, replace the battery immediately. We change our clocks each spring and fall, which are good times to change your smoke alarm batteries, too.

Never remove the battery for use in other devices.

Dust can clog a smoke alarm, so carefully vacuum the inside of a battery powered unit using the soft bristle brush. If electrically connected, shut off the power and vacuum the outside vents only. Restore power and test the unit when finished.

Do I ever need to replace my smoke alarms?

Smoke alarms are required to be replaced within the time frame indicated in the manufacturers’ instructions.  In most cases, this time frame will be from 7 to 10 years.  More detailed information can be found in Article of Division B of the Fire Code

What is the proper way for me to dispose of my old smoke alarms?

Smoke alarms from households, containing not more than 185 kilobequerels (kBq) or 5 microcurries (uCi) of americium 241, are classified as domestic waste. A typical smoke alarm contains approximately 33.3 kBq (0.9 uCi) of americium 241. Homeowners should dispose of smoke alarms that are at the end of their useful life with their regular waste. This is in line with the provisions of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s (CNSC) Nuclear Substances and Radiation Devices Regulations and the Ministry of the Environment’s Regulation 347 General – Waste Management.

If household smoke alarms are collected in larger amounts or contain radium (this will be indicated on the smoke alarm) contact the CNSC at 1-800-668-5284 to determine the proper disposal procedure.

At this time, the Office of the Fire Marshal is not aware of any take back programs, but certain manufacturers may take back individual smoke alarms.