New year, new law: Maryland smoke alarm law takes effect Jan. 1

WASHINGTON — A new smoke alarm law intended to save more lives is taking effect on Jan. 1, 2018 in Maryland. It’s part of a nationwide trend to transition from old smoke detectors powered by 9-volt batteries to new smoke alarms that have a 10-year life span.

Maryland is the most recent state to require the more modern alarms which are tamper-resistant and last for 10 years without the battery needing to be replaced.

Starting New Year’s Day, Maryland residents will be required to replace 9-volt battery operated smoke detectors that are 10 years old with the new smoke detectors.

Replacing batteries in old smoke alarms can fall by the wayside, meaning smoke detectors can be left not operating.

The newer detectors also come with a hush button, so if you set it off while cooking, you can temporarily silence the unit.

An old Maryland law that took effect on July 1, 2013 required the old smoke detectors to be replaced when they were 10 years old. The date the smoke detector was manufactured should be on the back of the unit. If a date can’t be found on the unit, then the smoke alarm is most likely more than 10 years old.

In 2013, the Maryland General Assembly basically amended and updated a 38-year-old smoke alarm law in order to take advantage of the newer technology.

Even though the new law contains some of the same language as the 2013 law, which states 10-year old smoke alarms should be replaced, lawmakers say that was on purpose in order to re-publicize the message to replace 10-year-old smoke alarms.

Smoke alarms in apartments are the responsibility of management.

While hard-wired smoke alarms are not affected by the legislation, their efficiency is also affected by age. Hard-wired smoke alarms that need to be changed cannot be changed to any battery-operated system, so it’s important to check the home’s requirements.

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