New Illinois Law Requires Residents to Upgrade Smoke Alarms

New Illinois Law Requires Residents to Upgrade Smoke Alarms

ILLINOIS (IRN) — A new Illinois law that requires residents to upgrade smoke detectors will go into effect in 2023.

Margaret Vaughn, government affairs director with Illinois Fire Safety Alliance, said all dwellings in Illinois have been required to have smoke detectors since 1988, but residents are now being told to use detectors that come with built-in batteries that last up to 10 years.

Vaughn said death is preventable in case of fire. Many fire deaths in recent years were the result of smoke detectors batteries being removed or not working.

“There were over 100 fire deaths last year in Illinois – residential fire deaths,” Vaughn said. “Over 70 percent of those cases happened in homes without working smoke detectors.”

Vaughn said many people die from smoke inhalation rather than burns, which makes the escape time important.

“All it takes is a couple of deep breaths of those toxic fumes and it leads to fatalities,” Vaughn said. “It’s not so much the burns that are killing people.”

Although there is time before the law takes effect, the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance has been holding a series of news conferences to inform residents.

“We’re just trying to get the message out,” Vaughn said. “We passed the law two sessions ago. It won’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2023, but we feel it’s important that the public is aware now. We have some time to educate the public.”

Vaughn said the new smoke detectors cost about $15 and local fire departments will be available to help with installation. Lawmakers exempted the city of Chicago from the new requirement, as are homes with wired smoke alarms or ones connected to a WiFi network.

Failure to comply with the new rule is punishable by a fine.

With the new smoke detectors, Vaughn said people will stop removing the batteries.

“With those other ones, people would take the batteries and use them for something else,” she said. “In this one, the battery is sealed in, so they cannot remove it. Even if they could, the battery is not good for anything else.”

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