Essex County Fire and Rescue Service


Fire service warning around smoke alarms, ahead of national testing month

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is asking people to test their smoke alarms regularly and make testing them part of their regular household routine, after half of residents admitted to not checking them. 

As part of a national campaign, during March ECFRS will be encouraging Essex residents to make fire safety a priority by ensuring they have enough smoke alarms in the home and that they work; potentially saving their life when they need it most.  

According to a smoke alarm ownership survey ECFRS commissioned in 2018, 91% of homes have working smoke alarms. Yet concerningly, over 50% of respondents in a recent ECFRS online survey said they rarely or never test their smoke alarm.  

Smoke alarms can give someone the few extra seconds they need to escape in a fire. While the majority of homes across the county now have an alarm fitted, most people are not aware that the average alarm has a lifespan of just ten years and then needs replacing.  

ECFRS is asking people to make sure that their alarms are up to date and up to the job.  

To keep your alarms in working order:  

  • Make sure there is at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home 
  • Test your smoke alarms by pushing the button every month  
  • Check that your smoke alarms are less than 10 years old  
  • Change the batteries every year. Never remove them.  
  • Fit smoke alarms in the right place - on landings and hallways and near bedrooms. Also consider fitting them in rooms that have electrical appliances – e.g. a heater or charger – or other fire risks  
  • Take a moment to check on your loved ones who may need help to ensure they’re fully protected.  

Will Newman, Head of Prevention at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said:

“Smoke alarms can offer vital protection for you and your loved ones, but most people simply fit and forget – they don’t know if it might be coming to the end of its lifespan or not working at all.  

“For most of us, there is nothing more important than keeping our loved ones safe and secure. So, if your alarm is getting past its best or your top floor is missing an alarm of its own, fit new ones, test them at least once a month and protect your loved ones.”

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Page last updated 26 February, 2021

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