Lifesaving smoke-alarm standards slow to take hold

Why does code enforcement vary so widely?
Published on Nov 1, 2005

Dear Barry, Is it currently required that residential smoke detectors be hard-wired and networked together throughout a home? If so, when did these standards take effect? – Larry Dear Larry, Smoke alarms in dwellings must be hard-wired to the electrical system. This requirement was introduced in the 1979 Uniform Building Code. In 1991, the code was amended to include battery backup to ensure that alarms would remain operable in the event of a power failure during a fire. Networking, which is the interconnection of all alarms within a home, was introduced as a requirement in the 2000 building code. The purpose of this new standard was to ensure that smoke at one end of a home would activate all alarms, including those at the opposite end of the dwelling. However, not all municipalities adopt code changes immediately or simultaneously. Each state, county and city code-enforcement agency accepts new versions of the building code in their own respective time frames. To determine whe...