Are Smoke Detectors Required By Law

The recent enhancements in building architecture have led to complex structures! An advent of furnished decor within the sleeping rooms has increased the chances of a fire spreading. Various state governments have imposed smoke detector requirements by law for this very purpose.

Previously, it was easier to escape a house fire through wide passages; the limited use of furniture and decor equipment gave one enough time to exit before the fire covered ample ground.

The rapid increase in electrical equipment within the house has also added significantly to these accidents. Let’s face it, you can’t avoid such accidents! What one can do is prepare to limit their consequences. 

The National Fire Protection Association has reported three-fifths of the total deaths in house fires to have occurred in places without a properly functioning smoke detector. Thus, many states have come up with detailed legislation regarding smoke detectors in buildings.

Some General Guidelines For Smoke Detector Laws

All major states in the US have some rulings regarding fire safety in residential and commercial buildings. The aspects and details might differ from one state to another, but the basic guidelines are spread on a national level.

These laws specify the exact number of smoke detectors required on each floor, their exact positions, the power source, and the need to pair them up with additional carbon monoxide detectors.

The state also clarifies who the burden of liability lies upon, in case of failure to follow these guidelines. While the basic installation needs to be provided by the building owner in most states, some local governing bodies hold the tenants accountable in various situations. 

Smoke Detector Laws By State

We’ll list down the basic legislation formulated by the major states for you to get a better idea.


Since 2006 the state has made it necessary for all residential buildings to have proper hardwired smoke detectors installed. The general guideline is to have one detector in each bedroom. There should also be an installed detector on each floor even if it does not have a sleeping space.

Older renovations are allowed to continue with a battery-powered detector as well! This is to make sure the device accommodates the circuit structure of the building and hence doesn’t cause other issues. The residential spaces with enclosed parking, attached garages, or fossil fuel heating appliances, are also directed to install carbon monoxide detectors on each level!

The responsibility of the initial installation lies with the landlord. In case a tenant reports any disruption while moving in, the landlord will have to get the devices replaced! The tenant is supposed to maintain the batteries, and in case of negligence, will be held responsible for replacement.


The state of California has imposed the fire-safety legislation in two steps. The state government has laid some basic guidelines in compliance with those laid down by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Whereas the local municipalities are allowed to pass more stringent policies to ensure the protection of their given areas!

All new buildings in the state have to install hard-wired smoke detectors on each level. The devices should be approved by the Fire Marshal’s department and have to be present in all sleeping rooms, across the hallways, and on each floor.

The department checks for the manufacturing date of the device and the hush feature which allows the detector to ignore regular smoke from the kitchen. 

The landlord is demanded to install these hard-wired devices with a battery backup in each new structure. Older buildings with battery-run detectors can continue but have to replace the power source every 10 years. In case you’re a tenant, your major responsibility is to report defects in the system if any. The landlord won’t be held accountable if not informed in time!


The Arizona state law emphasizes the need for fire safety equipment through laws and awareness guidelines. The basic ruling is to have a smoke detector in every sleeping room, in hallways longer than 30 feet, and on every level of the building, including its basement. Open attics are however excused from this regulation.

A great amount of focus is laid upon the type of device and its installation process. Unlike many other states, Arizona state laws require older buildings to replace their battery-powered units with hard-wired ones upon expiration. A battery-powered smoke detector is good to work for 10 years and hence should be replaced after that.

The devices on the ceiling should be at least 18 inches away from the dead-air spaces on the walls, while the ones on the walls should be installed away from the windows.

As a tenant, your job is to maintain the batteries and keep the detector clean of any dirt flimsy. In case of a malfunction, immediately report to the landlord; they are the ones accountable to replace the devices.


If you’re living in Colorado, you’re required to install smoke detectors with alarm facilities. The state guidelines recommend a hard-wired option but also accept battery-powered devices. There are, however, some restrictions for a battery-source detector to be approved.

Primarily, every device should have a lithium-ion battery that has a life of 10 years. This minimizes the chances of power failure due to short circuits, which led to several deaths from house fires in the state.

The state also emphasizes regular maintenance. Every homeowner is required to get their detectors tested monthly. A fire safety equipment report also needs to be filled and submitted annually. 

The devices should be present inside the sleeping area or within 15 feet of each room. The basement also has to be protected and hence must be equipped with separate detectors. It is the landlord’s responsibility to not only install smoke detectors but also make sure every dwelling with a garage has CO detectors with lithium batteries.


The buckeye state has given its local municipalities excessive margin to decide upon the fire equipment requirements in their zones. There’s a more stringent approach introduced for newer buildings, the circuit has to be adjusted to cater to hard-wired detectors on top of the ceilings.

Older structures are allowed to continue with battery sources as long as they replace the older versions with 10-year lithium-ion batteries. These devices have to be approved by the local municipality.  Similarly, new buildings are to have a detector in each bedroom, whereas older models are allowed to have one right outside.

Carbon monoxide alarms are also deemed necessary in all family dwellings and smaller town-houses. You need to have at least one approved device installed on each floor.

Some local bodies also require the detectors to be photoelectric and with dual sensors. This allows for better alarms that can beep upon both flaming and smoldering fires. It is the landlord’s general responsibility to keep the rental property safe. This includes maintaining both the smoke and CO detectors.

New York

One of the most populated states in the US, NY has constantly upgraded its fire safety legislation and has come up with tighter policies in 2019.

Regulations introduced in 2015 already required the installation of smoke detectors in every bedroom, all the hallways, and on every floor including the basement. It was even recommended to have these devices in the attic.

The 2019 policies have now made it necessary to get the import, sale, and purchase of these detectors approved. You can either have a hard-wired system installed in your place by an expert, or opt for lithium batteries that cannot be detached and hence function without any hassle for at least 10 years!

These new devices are approved, only if they indicate their end of life, with a distinctive audible signal. CO detectors are also required in both family dwellings and townhouses. There’s no specific requirement to have one on each floor though.

This recent update has eliminated the chances of disputes between landlords and tenants. The batteries cannot be removed and hence save the cost of replacement for landlords. 


Much like New York, the sunshine state has also deemed the previously used 9-volt smoke detectors as inadequate. The latest regulations require an installation both inside and outside sleeping rooms. The department ensures that the alarm is audible in each room and approves the design accordingly.

The current code requires the installation of dual-powered devices in the house. This equipment runs on the home current and relies on a backup lithium battery in case of a power failure. The major distinctive legislation is the one that requires the approval of an independent lab test for the product to be sold. Any device without this label would not be approved for use.

A smoke detector is also required on floors that do not consist of a bedroom. You can install it near a den or a living room.

The landlord must make sure that these detectors come with a non-detachable battery. The tenants are supposed to get it checked for maintenance every month and report the issues to the landlord accordingly.


The Land of Lincoln has witnessed its fair share of fire-related accidents in the last few years and has hence updated its legislation which is due to be implemented from 2023. While the local body does not disapprove of non-lithium batteries like other significant states, it requires the power source to be sealed to avoid anyone from detaching them.

This regulation is specifically for buildings operating with battery-powered smoke detectors; the ones relying on home current, or Wifi, are exempted from it. There are no laws compelling features like dual sensors or photoelectric beeps, however, such devices are accepted and approved by the municipalities.

CO detectors are also required in all new residencies. You do not need to have one inside the room as long as it is within 15 feet of where you sleep. The local governing bodies ensure that these detectors are properly installed. They should not be near a window or less than 6 inches from a wall!

Just like every other state, the responsibility of installing and replacing a smoke and CO detector lies upon the landlord.


The keystone state is one of the largest in terms of population. Its regulations require at least one smoke detector on each floor of a residence. There’s no obligation to have the detectors in every room as long as the sleeping areas are within 15 feet of the main hallway where the device is installed.

The state laws are distinctive when it comes to dealing with buildings comprising more than three stories. It requires a device on each level including the basement. These detectors should be interlinked and hence should alarm the residents on each floor in case of a fire. The alarms should come with a photoelectric sensor to account for those with a hearing impairment.

Although detectors with non-detachable batteries are currently allowed, many municipalities are compelling builders to account for dual-powered sensors in new projects. The tenants are responsible to report a non-functioning detector within 24 hours, while the landlord is accountable to repair it or get it replaced within 48 hours of notice.

Property sellers also have to disclose the availability of CO detectors in a building with fossil fuel appliances. The governing body recommends one detector on each floor.

Do keep in mind that there’s a difference between smoke detectors and smoke alarms. If you’re not sure about how these two differ, then head over to this article.


Is it illegal to not have a smoke alarm?

Yes, most urban states have some form of legislation regarding fire prevention equipment. This requires every residential building to have a specific number of smoke detectors. Some states like Illinois even fine the transgressors.  Read our full article for details regarding a particular state.

Are hardwired smoke detectors required by law?

Hardwired smoke detectors rely on the home current and have a backup battery to run through in case of a power failure. Unlike other options, these require minimal maintenance and are the safest options to install in residential houses. Many states have made it necessary to opt for this design in new structures.

Who is responsible for smoke alarms in rented properties?

The landlord is responsible for making a rental property habitable and hence installing a smoke detector according to the state’s specific laws. 26 of the US states also require landlords to install CO detectors. The tenants are responsible for the devices’ day-to-day maintenance.