2010 Massachusetts Q&A
State Smoke Detector Requirements:
heard that the rules regarding smoke detectors are changing.
What are these changes and how do they impact me?
you heard is true. On April 5, 2010,* a new regulation regarding the
installation and maintenance of smoke detectors will become effective. These new
regulations were enacted by the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services and
will apply to single and multi-family homes built (or most recently renovated)
April 5, 2010 is the new effective date. The original effective date was
homes sold on or after April 5, 2010:
The regulations require two different types of smoke detectors to be in place
depending upon the location in the home. First, in zones within 20 feet of a
kitchen or bathroom, smoke detectors using photoelectric only technology will be
required. Outside of the 20-foot kitchen & bath zone(s), the regulations
require smoke detectors using both ionization and photoelectric technology to be
installed.* Compliance can be achieved by installing either dual technology
(“combination units”) or by installing separate ionization and photoelectric
units. Again, all smoke detectors within 20 feet of a kitchen or bath must be
The regulation was recently amended to provide an exemption from the ionization
sensor requirement for homes w/ low-voltage alarm systems (due to product
requirements were developed, in part, based upon research that shows that
ionization smoke detectors tend to give false alarms due to fumes given off from
typical cooking activities or steam from a shower. Frequent false alarms often
lead residents to disable smoke detectors by removing their batteries. The
intent of the new regulations is to make homes safer by preventing residents
from disabling smoke detectors that are triggered by typical cooking or bathing
What about battery-operated smoke detectors? Do they comply with the new
regulations or, must the units be hard-wired?
The battery/hard-wire rules are not changing at the State level. Statute
specifically provides that “… the head of the fire department shall allow
the installation of approved monitored battery powered smoke detectors.” But
do check with the local fire departments, as some cities and towns do have
certain rules set by local ordinance/by-law.