Beginning April 1, stores in New York State will be prohibited under a new law from selling smoke alarms that use replaceable batteries (9 volt or other). According to a news report, stores will be allowed to sell only hard-wired alarms or ones that have a built-in, sealed, 10-year battery. According to Kidde North America, which manufactures these devices, 60 percent of fire deaths occur in homes with smoke alarms that do not work.
Law May Help Save Lives
Safety advocates say the new law takes away the “human factor” in these cases where people forget to replace batteries. Fire departments are also hoping that the new law will reduce the number of false alarms that are called in because a resident has mistaken a low battery or a “chirp” signifying that the battery’s life has ended, for an actual alarm. Kidde is reminding people that smoke alarms are only good for 10 years. This is because household dust and dirt will clog sensors making the devices ineffective.
Unfortunately, officials believe that many homes in New York still have very old alarms that have long become ineffective. Battery technology has changed for smoke alarms and the devices now come with a number of technical improvements such as voice warnings, built in emergency lights and room-specific alarms for locations such as kitchens that are prone to nuisance alarms from cooking.
Smoke alarms even use wireless technology to trigger alarms inside a house. Smoke alarms with built-in batteries are more expensive, but you no longer need to buy batteries for a smoke alarm every year. Kidde estimates that not having to replace batteries every year may save customers $40 to $60 over the 10-year life of a smoke alarm.
Why Smoke Alarms Are Important
According to the FDNY, two-thirds of deadly fires in New York City involve smoke alarms that do not work. When it comes to protection from fires and smoke inhalation injuries, fire alarms and smoke detectors that work and are able to warn residents in advance are the way to go. Landlords, property owners and managing agents are required under New York City’s Housing Maintenance Code to provide, install and maintain smoke detecting devices in each unit.
All smoke detectors shall be of the type that emits an audible notification at the expiration of the useful life of the alarm. The American Red Cross states the fire death rate in homes with working smoke alarms is 51 percent less than the rate for homes that lack such protection. So, having a working smoke alarm reduces the chance of death by fire or smoke inhalation by nearly half. Sprinklers and smoke alarms together cut your risk of dying in a home fire by 82 percent in relation to having neither.
According to a report issued by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) issued in January 2019, between 2012 and 2016, smoke alarms were present in 74 percent of home fires reported to U.S. fire departments and sounded in more than half of those fire incidents. The report stated that almost three out of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms (60 percent) or no smoke alarms that were working (17 percent).
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
In instances where injuries or fatalities occur due to a lack of working smoke alarms or sprinklers etc., the victims or families of deceased victims can file a premises liability claim against the at-fault parties including, but not limited to, the landlord, property owner, property manager, etc. Property owners and/or property managers are responsible for maintaining their properties and ensuring that they are safe for tenants, visitors and guests.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a fire, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you. Our firm obtained a $985,000 settlement out of a $1 million policy for two people who suffered smoke inhalation injuries because the homeowner did not have smoke detectors installed and the $15,000 was left for a person that we did not represent. One of our clients recovered $2,500,000 due to a faulty space heater.
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