Consumer Notice: Smoke Alarms with Replaceable Batteries No Longer Available in California

June 25, 2015

Millions of California homeowners may be surprised the next time they go to purchase a new smoke alarm. As of July 1, smoke and combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarms powered by replaceable batteries are no longer available for sale. Instead, all battery-powered smoke alarms or combination alarms approved for sale by the state fire marshal must be powered by a sealed, 10-year battery. Kidde Worry-Free smoke and combination alarms comply with the requirements and are available throughout California. Kidde Fire Safety, a leading manufacturer of residential fire safety products, is a part of UTC Building & Industrial Systems, a unit of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX).

A 2014 survey conducted by Qualtrics on behalf of Kidde found two-thirds of California homes use battery-powered smoke alarms, and nearly one out of three have alarms that are over 10 years old. The state fire marshal and national fire organizations like the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommend replacing smoke alarms every 10 years, yet 41 percent of Californians surveyed didn’t think they needed to do so.

"The risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms," said Tonya Hoover, California state fire marshal. "Installing sealed, tamper-proof alarms with long-life lithium batteries provides the home’s occupants with 10 years of continuous smoke detection and no need to worry about changing batteries. More important, it will help save lives."

The NFPA reports three out of every five home fire deaths occur in homes that do not have a smoke alarm or where the alarm didn’t work – mainly due to dead or missing batteries. A long-life battery sealed inside an alarm makes it virtually tamper-proof and eliminates the risk associated with disabling the alarm.

The law, SB-745, also requires owners of rented or leased residential dwellings to ensure smoke alarms are located in every bedroom, in hallways leading to bedrooms, and on each level of a home by Jan. 1, 2016 in order to comply with current building standards. U.S. Census Bureau data from 2013 shows 5.6 million renters occupied homes in California.

The average new U.S. home needs four or five smoke alarms, based on code requirements to install alarms on each floor and inside and outside of bedrooms. However, survey results found 70 percent of California homes have fewer than four alarms, leaving families unprotected.

"Having smoke alarms throughout the home can help save lives by alerting families to potential fire risks," said Chris Rovenstine, vice president, sales and marketing, Kidde. "We applaud the state of California for requiring homes to be protected with smoke alarms with sealed, 10-year batteries and making it a priority for homeowners to be proactive in their steps to safety."

Ten-year sealed-battery smoke alarms, such as Kidde’s Worry-Free line, are safer alternatives that require less maintenance, are available at home improvement retailers and cost between $25 and $50. With no need to replace batteries, consumers save about $40 in battery costs over the life of one alarm. After 10 years, the alarms will sound a warning to indicate it is time for replacement. Additionally, the line offers units with location-based features, such as an added voice-warning in the bedroom alarm.

For more information, visit www.worryfreealarm.com.