The City of Milwaukee has introduced a change to the residential smoke alarm ordinance. If passed, the revised ordinance will require the use of sealed smoke alarm units with 10 year lithium batteries in all city residential rental housing. The proposed ordinance would require landlords to install the sealed unit when replacing a current removable-battery unit or by October 1, 2022, whichever occurs sooner.
In is unknown what the impetus behind the revised ordinance was but most likely it was the fact that tenants still continue to remove the battery from their smoke detectors to use for other things . . . like their kids toys. While the “hush button” requirement a few years ago partially alleviated tenants removing the battery when cooking, it still did not prevent tenants from removing the battery to power little Junior’s Talking Elmo.
The cost of the sealed unit will run approximately $13 more per unit than current smoke alarms. Those landlords in an effort to reduce costs who decided to buy smoke alarms in bulk now find themselves facing a huge loss as they will have difficulty using up their stockpile before the new ordinance requires replacement with the new sealed units.
The current ordinance states:
214-23. Battery-Operated Smoke Alarms.
Every battery-operated smoke alarm shall be
tested by the owner not less than once every
calendar year. The owner shall provide a copy of
test results to the commissioner or the
commissioner=s designee upon request. Test
results shall include the date on which testing was
performed and the name, telephone number and
property relationship of the person who performed
the test. Testing shall be performed in accordance
with the manufacturer=s specifications for testing.
By September 21, 2005, every owner shall take
the actions necessary to ensure that any smoke
alarm located within 20 feet of the primary cooking
appliance within the unit has a silencing switch
The proposed revised ordinance is below:
Part 1. Section 214-23 of the code is repealed and recreated to read:
214-23. Battery-Operated Smoke Alarms. 1. TYPE. Every battery-operated smoke alarm shall be powered by 10-year or more non-removable batteries. Compliance with this requirement shall be met when replacing an existing battery-operated unit according to the manufacturer’s recommended replacement date or by October 1, 2022, whichever is sooner.
2. SILENCING SWITCH. Any smoke alarm located within 20 feet of the primary cooking appliance within the unit shall have a silencing switch.
3. TESTING. Every battery-operated smoke alarm shall be tested by the owner not less than once every calendar year. The owner shall provide a copy of test results to the commissioner or the commissioner’s designee upon request. Test results shall include the date on which testing was performed and the name, telephone number and property relationship of the person who performed the test. Testing shall be performed in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications for testing.
Part 2. Section 214-27-3 of the code is amended to read:
214-27. Smoke Detectors and Smoke Alarms for Residential Dwellings Built Prior to January 1, 1983. 3. TYPE. Smoke detectors and alarms required under this section shall be single station devices, either battery operated >>as provided in s. 214-23<<, plug-in or directed wired A/C units unless otherwise required by the code.
UPDATE 10/9/12 — The hearing was held earlier today and it was referred to ZND committee for a hearing in November sometime. The ordinance was amended to require that the sealed lithium battery units go into effect in 2017 (5 years) rather than 2022 (10 years). A request was made by AASEW counsel Heiner Giese to delay the effective date of the ordinance to June 1, 2013 so that landlords could use up their current supply of non-sealed battery units – one alderman supported this request. Several alderman expressed concern that this proposed modification to the current ordinance would be expensive for homeowners who do not have to deal with tenants that remove the batteries from smoke alarm units
– Thank you to Heiner for the updated information.