Safety Tips & Reminders

Time to Change Smoke Detector Batteries, Replace Aging Detectors

Submitted by the New Melle Fire Protection District

While daylight savings has passed, we would like to once again stress the importance of changing out smoke detector batteries and aging detectors. NFPA report the following statistics which are very eye opening.

  •  Smoke alarms provide an early warning of a fire, giving people additional escape time. In 2009-2013, smoke alarms sounded in more than half (53%) of the homefires reported to U.S. fire departments.

  •  Three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms (38%) or no working smoke alarms (21%).

  •  The death rate per 100 reported home fires was more than twice as high in homes that did not have any working smoke alarms compared to the rate in homes with working smoke alarms (1.18 deaths vs. 0.53 deaths per 100 fires).

  •  In fires in which the smoke alarms were present but did not operate, almost half (46%) of the smoke alarms had missing or disconnected batteries.

  •  Dead batteries caused one-quarter (24%) of the smoke alarm failures.


With the aging homes within the New Melle Fire District, many of the homes are 40 years and older. Even some of the newer homes, especially in fiddlesticks subdivision are over 10 years old. Once a smoke detector reaches that ten year mark, they become extremely unreliable and unsafe. If you look at the back of the smoke detector, there is a date, and if that date was prior to 2009, it is time to replace the entire detector. New Melle Fire does offer assistance with battery changes and smoke detector replacements, providing that the homeowner has the batteries and new detectors there. If your smoke detector has reached is life expectancy and you have a home that has wired smoke detectors. Look at the manufacturer of the detector and try to get the same detector. The wired detectors have a wire harness that is plugged in to the electricity of the home. If you buy the same detector as what you previously had, chances are, you can plug the new detector in and be done. If you buy a different brand of detector, the wiring harness may be different, and in that case we at the fire department cannot rewire the detector, and an electrician will be needed. Carbon Monoxide detectors are the same; they have that ten year expiration. We do recommend, even if you have a fully electric home, have at least one carbon monoxide alarm in the home. The reason is, if you have an attached garage, and you start your vehicle inside, the exhaust creates carbon monoxide. Even with the garage door open, carbon monoxide can leak in to your home, and it is completely odorless, andis why it’s known as the “silent killer”. 

If anyone within our fire district needs assistance with hard to reach detectors, please do not hesitate to give us a call or send us a message on Facebook.