Single family and 2-family homes sold in MA must be inspected by the fire department to verify the proper installation of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. They then provide a smoke certificate required for the closing. It is prudent for property owners to know the MA smoke detector rules and ionization vs. photoelectric smoke detectors and to be in compliance (regardless of whether they are selling their property).
Ionization Vs. Photoelectric Smoke Detectors
There are two primary kinds of smoke detectors, ionization and photoelectric. Each one has different strengths and weaknesses relating to recognizing smoke and fire.
Ionization smoke detectors have two electrodes and a constant current that runs between them. Smoke interferes with this constant current and sets off the alarm. This kind of smoke detector is good at detecting flames but does not differentiate between smoke and steam. Therefore, they are likely to issue false alarms if placed near kitchens and bathrooms.
Photoelectric Smoke Detectors
Photoelectric smoke detectors have a beam of light. Smoke or fire can break up the beam and activate the alarm. It is more accurate at recognizing smoldering fire and is less sensitive to false alarms from cooking smoke or shower steam.
MA Smoke Detector Rules
MA regulations determine the types and placement of smoke detectors in residential properties. The rules differ based on when a property was built or significantly improved. Below is an overview of the location of smoke detectors inside a residence.
|Location||before 1975||1975 to Aug. 27, 1997||after Aug. 27, 1997||on or after Jan. 1, 2008||on or after Feb. 4, 2011|
|Every Finished Level||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Base of Every Stairway||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Outside Each Sleeping Space||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Minimum 1 for Every 1,200 sq.ft. Finished Space per Floor||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Inside All Bedrooms||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Bottom of Every Stairway to an Occupied Floor||Yes|
|Within 20ft. of Kitchens/Baths||Photoelectric||Photoelectric||Photoelectric||Photoelectric|
|Outside of 20ft. of Kitchens/Baths||Both Ionization & Photoelectric||Photoelectric OR Dual||Photoelectric|
Additional details on MA smoke detector rules may be viewed at http://www.mass.gov/eopss/agencies/dfs/dfs2/osfm/fire-prev/smoke-alarm-regulations.html. Note that this information is just an introduction, should not be interpreted as legal advice and may change without notice. Additionally, cities and towns may impose stricter rules beyond state mandated ones. Contact your local fire department for comprehensive and current information for your home.