Though I believe that I have written an article on this subject previously, I feel it important to address the responsibilities of landlords versus tenants, where smoke alarms are concerned. I do understand that rental or leasing companies handle some properties, but ultimately, the responsibility rests with the owner(s). The owner of any rented property is responsible to ensure that an adequate number of properly operating and properly placed smoke alarms exist in any rented property. The owner is also responsible for the monthly testing of the smoke alarms, whether they are tied together in series, or are individual, battery-operated alarms.
So, what is the tenant responsible for, where smoke alarms are concerned? First and foremost, for the protection of themselves and their family, the tenant should ensure that whatever smoke alarms are in the dwelling should work properly. If the smoke alarms are improperly placed or not operating, then the tenant has the responsibility of informing the landlord or owner. As stated previously, if my family lived in this rented space, I would do whatever is necessary to ensure that my home is protected from fire. Depending on the landlord, there could be a delay in getting batteries or smoke alarms installed. Here is my opinion, one night without working smoke alarms protecting your home is one night too many.
Chesterfield Fire & EMS still has a smoke detector program, where upon requests, smoke alarms will be installed. It is my understanding that station personnel have been advised to speak with landlords, when smoke alarm requests have been made for their rented property. The point is to hold landlords/owners responsible, as well as seeking to provide smoke alarms to as many dwellings that need them.
The year that the dwelling was built will determine what the smoke alarm requirement is. My house was built in the 60s, and therefore has no requirement, as long as I do not rent it. Renting it would dictate that I have an adequate number of properly operating alarms. Incidentally, my home is protected. My son’s house was built in 2012, so the requirement was for multiple electric with battery back-up alarms, tied together in series, throughout the home. I agree wholeheartedly with the code revisions that seek to protect people, whether they think it necessary or not.
I want to wish everyone who reads my column a Happy Thanksgiving. I pray that we have not lost sight of what this holiday really means. We do have so much to be thankful for, and I am not talking necessarily about material possessions, though we should be thankful for being blessed. I would like to encourage each of you to be a blessing to someone else this year.