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FASNY: As we spring forward, change your clocks & check your batteries


Thu, Mar 9th 2017 10:05 am
The Firemen's Association of the State of New York
The Firemen's Association of the State of New York

Association: 3 of every 5 fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms

Editorial by the Firemen's Association of the State of New York

As New Yorkers prepare to set their clocks forward one hour, the Firemen's Association of the State of New York (FASNY) urges all New Yorkers to check their smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to ensure their homes are properly protected. If alarms have removeable batteries, those batteries should be replaced. Alarms equipped with sealed-in batteries should be tested to ensure they are in proper working condition.

At the end of 2015, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law that will require all smoke alarms sold in New York state to be equipped with sealed-in, nonremovable batteries that last for at least 10 years. The new law will take effect in 2019, and marks an important step in improving New York's fire safety.

According to research from the National Fire Protection Association, three of every five home fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms, and the vast majority of smoke alarm failures are due to dead or missing batteries. Ten-year smoke alarms require little maintenance and, unlike alarms with removable batteries, they are nearly impossible to deactivate.

Regardless of the type of alarm in one's home, FASNY recommends cleaning all alarms to remove any debris that might impede their function, and to test the batteries, changing them if necessary.

"Installing and maintaining smoke alarms in your house is the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself from fire," FASNY President Ken Pienkowski said. "This simple, but vital maintenance includes ensuring that all alarms are equipped with working batteries. We strongly encourage New Yorkers to install 10-year smoke alarms, which cannot be easily deactivated. Equally important is installing and maintaining carbon monoxide alarms. These appliances are critical in preventing future tragedies."

FASNY offers these smoke and carbon monoxide alarm tips:

  • Test alarms at least once a month by using the test button.
  • If you have an alarm with a removable battery, be sure to check the batteries every six months, and change the batteries every year. If a battery is starting to lose its power, the unit will usually chirp to warn you. Do not disable the unit.
  • Vacuum or blow out any dust that might have accumulated in the unit.
  • Never borrow a battery from an alarm to use somewhere else.
  • Never paint a smoke or CO alarm.
  • Install at least one smoke alarm on every floor of your home, including the basement, and in or near each sleeping area.
  • Smoke alarms should not be installed near a window, because drafts could interfere with their operation.
  • Families should also develop and practice a home fire escape plan.
  • Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for testing smoke alarms and replacing the batteries.

For more information on smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, and other information on fire safety and prevention, visit www.fasny.com and www.nfpa.org.


Founded in 1872, the Firemen's Association of the State of New York represents the interests of the approximately 110,000 volunteer firefighters and emergency medical personnel in New York. For more information, visit www.fasny.com.

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