National Association of State Fire Marshals Calls on NYS Legislature to Pass Life-Saving Smoke Alarm Legislation Before Adjourning

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Bill Would Require Battery Operated Smoke Alarms in NY to Have 10-Year Battery Life

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Countless lives in New York could be at risk every day that goes by without this legislation passing.

The National Association of State Fire Marshals called on the New York State Legislature to pass S7771/A5200C, a bill that would require battery operated smoke alarms sold in New York to be equipped with a non-removable, non-replaceable battery that will power the alarm for a minimum of 10 years. If passed, New York would join states like California, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina and Oregon that require the sale of sealed smoke alarms with the battery capacity to operate for at least ten years.

“Countless lives in New York could be at risk every day that goes by without this legislation passing,” said James D. Narva, Executive Director, National Association of State Fire Marshals. “Nearly two-thirds of approximately 3,000 Americans who die in fatal home fires each year are in homes without smoke alarms or without working alarms, mainly due to dead or missing batteries. Senator John Flanagan’s (R-Suffolk) legislation would help ensure smoke alarms in New York are working thus preventing untold numbers of injuries and deaths of New York residents and fire fighters.”

Senator Flanagan and the Assembly sponsor and Majority Leader Assemblyman Joe Morelle (D-Irondequoit), have been leading the state-wide effort to pass this life-saving legislation. Both New York elected officials have said that passage of this legislation must be a priority for New York state as maintenance-free alarms will drive down fire deaths and injuries of New Yorkers.

According to the Oregon State Fire Marshal, state data suggests there was a 37% decline in alarm failures due to dead or missing batteries after a similar law was enacted in Oregon in 1999. Similar legislation introduced and passed in other states and municipalities across the country has received broad support from a range of different groups including: State Fire Fighters Association; State Fire Chiefs Association; Fire Marshals Association; Fire Inspectors Association; Red Cross and many others.

Many New York homes have non-working smoke alarms; have them placed in the wrong place and/or do not replace the batteries. A 2012 national survey by the Kelton Research Group revealed:

  • 58% of those surveyed didn’t know their batteries should be replaced every 6 months;
  • 68% of those surveyed believed that the need to replace batteries should happen less often;
  • 61% of those surveyed said they allowed their fire detector to be inoperable because of a non-working battery.

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Joel Barkin

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