In the event of a fire, properly installed and maintained smoke alarms will provide an early warning alarm to your household. This alarm could save your own life and those of your loved ones by providing the chance to escape.
Why Should My Home Have Smoke Alarms?
Smoke alarms are one of the best safety devices you can buy and install to protect yourself, your family, and your home.


What Types of Smoke Alarms Are Available?
There are many different brands of smoke alarms available on the market but they fall under two basic types: ionization and photoelectric. Ionization alarms sound more quickly when a flaming, fast moving fire occurs. Photoelectric alarms are quicker at sensing smoldering, smoky fires. There are also combination smoke alarms that combine ionization and photoelectric into one unit, called dual sensor smoke alarms.
Because both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms are better at detecting distinctly different yet potentially fatal fires, and because homeowners cannot predict what type of fire might start in a home, the USFA recommends the installation of both ionization and photoelectric or dual sensor smoke alarms.

I Have A Hearing Disability. Are there smoke alarms made to help me?
Yes, these alarms may use strobe lights that flash and/or vibrate to assist in alerting those who are unable to hear standard smoke alarms when they sound.


I cannot afford to purchase a smoke alarm or physically cannot install one. What can I do?

The Henrico County Division of Fire, Low-Income Smoke Alarm Program provides installation of one (1) smoke alarm and/or battery free of charge to families or individuals who cannot afford to purchase them.  Please read the criteria below and contact us to schedule an appointment or for additional assistance.

  • If you rent your home and smoke detectors do not work or are not present
    • Contact the Henrico County Division of Fire by filling out the Request Form.
    • Property owners in Henrico County are required to provide working smoke detectors in their residential rental properties; Fire Prevention personnel will assist in having the owners install or maintain a smoke alarm.
  • If you own your home and are unable to purchase a smoke alarm, cannot physically install one, or cannot change the battery.
    • Contact the Henrico County Division of Fire by filling out the Request Form.
    • Firefighters will install one (1) properly located, battery-operated smoke alarm at no charge.
    • Division personnel will also check existing smoke alarms to ensure they are working and in a proper location.

If you live outside Henrico,  other agency contact information.

Helpful Tip

Pick a holiday or your birthday and replace the batteries each year on that day.

If your smoke alarm starts making a “chirping” noise, replace the batteries and reset it.

How Long will my Smoke Alarm Last?
Most alarms installed today have a life span of about 5-10 years. After this time, the entire unit should be replaced. It is a good idea to write the date of purchase with a marker on the inside of your alarm so you will know when to replace it. Some of the newer alarms already have the purchase date written inside. In any event, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for replacement.

Anything Else I Should Know?
Some smoke alarms are considered to be hard-wired. This means they are connected to the household electrical system and may or may not have battery backup. It’s important to test every smoke alarm monthly and replace the batteries with new ones at least once a year.
Some additional important fire safety and prevention information:

  • Plan and practice escape plans several times a year. (Link is to a PDF document).
  • Make sure your whole family knows when and how to call emergency telephone numbers.
  • Obtain and learn how to use a fire extinguisher.
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms in your home.
  • Consider installing residential fire sprinklers in your home.

Contact Henrico County Division of Fire at 501-4900 if you need help or have questions about fire safety in your home.


Share This Page