Fire safety and public health officials gathered yesterday at the Evanston Fire Department to make the public aware of Illinois’ new 10-year smoke detector law.
The new law requires Illinois residents to replace their old smoke detectors with the type that has a long-term 10-year sealed battery by the end of 2022.
"In 2018, there were over 100 residential fire deaths in Illinois and sadly nearly 70 percent of these deaths are occurring in homes without working smoke detectors," said Illinois Fire Safety Alliance (IFSA) /IL Firefighters Association Government Affairs Director Margaret Vaughn.
The new law applies to residents who are still using alarms with removable batteries or alarms that are not hardwired.
“People often have a false sense of security when it comes to fire safety," said State Representative Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston).
"Since 1988, the Illinois Smoke Detector Act has required all dwellings to have smoke detectors. The new requirement just updates that law to reflect the changes in new technology, aimed at saving lives, while making it easier and more cost effective for Illinois residents to comply.”
EFD Fire Chief Brian R. Scott explained that while the number of fire deaths may have decreased in the past few decades, you are more likely to die in a residential fire than you were years ago.
"This is because the majority of these deaths are caused by smoke inhalation and not burns, which is why escape time is so critical," he said.
Scott also explained that the toxic gases that are emitted from the synthetic material in modern homes also contributes to the problem because the escalation of a fire in a contained space now occurs in as little as three minutes compared to almost 30 minutes a generation ago.
Benefits of a long-term 10-year battery:
-- no need for battery replacement, saving the average homeowner between $40-$60 in battery costs over the life of each alarm.
-- At the end of the 10-year life cycle, the smoke alarm will automatically alert the homeowner to replace the alarm
-- While many people deactivate their older model smoke alarms or remove the batteries while cooking, the 10-year model is not a cooking nuisance and has a 15-minute silencer button.
--The new alarms are affordable, with the current retail price of about $20.
“People don’t realize how quickly a fire can turn deadly and how important escape time is," said Greg Olsen, the City of Evanston’s Public Health Manager. "Installing new 10-year sealed battery smoke alarms helps families stay protected, with the most advanced sensing technologies and safety features available.”
Evanston residents who need assistance with installations or a 10-year smoke alarm can contact the Evanston Fire Department through the City of Evanston 311 system or if using a cell phone text (847) 448-4311.
Illinois-based First Alert is donating smoke alarms and the tools and equipment to install the alarms to the Evanston Fire Department to help reduce the number of fire related injuries to those in the community.