CARBONDALE — In a move that updates a 30-year-old law, the Illinois General Assembly has changed the smoke detector requirement for homes, requiring homeowners to now replace old detectors and use long-term, 10-year units.
In a news release from the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance, it said the law was announced Wednesday at the Southern Illinois University Recreation Center. Sarah Patrick, the director of the Jackson County Public Health Department, said in the release that in 2017 there were 114 residential fire deaths in the state and added that there were already 90 in 2018.
“The General Assembly passed a new law to address this horrific problem, by requiring 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,” Patrick said.
The new law is designed to cut down on human error — a lot of smoke detectors are not operational because batteries have died or been removed.
“More than half of fire-related deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarm or no working smoke alarm.
“Informing people about protection from fire-related loss is part of public health's educational mission, and this new legislation provides a responsive and much-needed safety net for Illinoisans," said SIU Carbondale Public Health Graduate Program Director Dr. Robert McDermott, in the release.
Illinois Fire Safety Alliance Executive Director Phil Zaleski said sometimes people take out the batteries of detectors near kitchens to avoid setting them off while cooking, but he said the new models being required have 15-minute silence buttons. The new units are sealed and the release said will cut down on battery costs for families.
Carbondale Fire Chief Mike Hertz said it all comes down to safety.
“On average, families have less than three minutes to escape a fire from the time an alarm sounds before it turns deadly,” Hertz said in the release.
“We are working to ensure that everyone is compliant with the new legislation and has the tools needed to help protect themselves and their loved ones in case of fire.”