Essex County Fire and Rescue Service


Smoke alarms, test yours

There is nothing more annoying than the sound of a smoke alarm going off when you are making toast, but that piercing beep is all that stands between your family suffocating in their sleep or escaping unharmed if a fire breaks out at night.

At one time or another all of us have stood fanning the smoke alarm with a tea towel and opening the windows after toast has burned. In fact many people go to great lengths to silence their smoke alarm permanently by removing the batteries or disabling it in some other way. If people put half the energy in to testing smoke alarms that they do into silencing them then all of our homes would be a safer place.

Divisional Officer Neil Fenwick said: “Everyone gets frustrated when the alarm goes off as the toast burns. But really instead of getting angry we should all be glad to know that our smoke alarms are working.

“If a fire breaks out late at night that annoying beep can mean the difference between life and death. When you are asleep just three breaths of toxic smoke is enough to kill so you are relying on a smoke alarm to wake you up.

“That’s why you must make an effort to test the smoke alrm yourself and not just rely on burnt toast. We recommend that everyone tests their smoke alarm at least once a week. Testing a smoke alarm weekly takes just a few seconds and gives you peace of mind which lasts all week long.

“There is no excuse for not having a smoke alarm, we provide and fit smoke alarms completely free of charge through our home fire safety scheme. So if your test reveals yours’ aren’t working then call us straight away to get a new alarms fitted.”

To arrange a free home fire safety visit call 0300 303 0088 or email


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