Have You Tested Your Detector Today?

An inoperable smoke detector is  one of the most frustrating and dangerous findings on any type of inspection.  This violation carries the most severe penalty scoring.  With Agency and Municipal inspections same day repairs are mandated.

imageBoth residents and maintenance must acknowledge the importance of this device.  It must be operational at all times.  The multi-family industry is regulated by a variety of agencies.  They mandate the use of at least one, and sometimes multiple devices.  The number of devices depends on the size of the apartment or town home.   It is sad and frustrating to hear about injuries and some times fatalities in locations where no smoke detectors are present. Knowing the value of quick warning in the case of a fire, there is no doubt that smoke detectors save lives.

Team Training and Awareness

During staff meetings, suggest maintenance develop a habit to check a smoke detector anytime they’re in an apartment for a service request, not just on inspection, or pre-inspection walk thru’s. The additional service could be tracked on the service request. Taking the time to type this comment onto every service could be cumbersome and time consuming. The service technicians are on a mission when they enter an apartment, troubleshooting, repairing and hopefully finishing before they receive a call about an emergency at another location. To integrate smoke detector maintenance into regular work flow, one property printed labels with the direction, “test the smoke detector.” Labels were placed on every service request as it was printed. This would allow early identification of any inoperable devices. Not only to avoid Health and Safety violations, but most importantly to provide a safety feature for residents in case of an emergency.

Positive reinforcement can assist with residents, to maintain smoke detectors. Listing “testimage your smoke detector day” in the newsletter or on a sign in the hallway or the property grounds. On the violation side, resident must understand the severity of dismantling a smoke detector. Warning letters, sizeable lease violation fees and even possible eviction could be warranted for repeated infractions. Not only is a resident putting themselves and their household in harms way, they are also creating an environment that could cause their neighbors to be harmed.

The care and condition of smoke detectors is often specifically identified in the apartment lease or the Community Rules and Regulations, taking the time to explain this policy during the lease signing is critical. The resident must understand a smoke detector is an important safety tool, not a nuisance to be dismantled when the toast burns. Smoke detectors are not going to be an irritation that produce the alarm tone without cause. If the device is not working properly, it must be reported so it can be repaired or replaced.

Monitoring the operation of smoke detectors during the regular maintenance tasks on a property will encourage residents to participate in preventive efforts, improving the safety features in apartment homes and minimizing costly findings on agency or municipal inspections.

Lori Hammond
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Lori Hammond

Thirty plus years experience in an industry best characterized as "no two days are the same" provides the foundation for Lori Hammond's experience in Property Management.With education and career experiences in Mid-Michigan, the audience for the blog Property Management Minutes is growing.Connect with her on , Linkedin, and on Blog.
Lori Hammond
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One thought on “Have You Tested Your Detector Today?

  1. Completely agree, great post. Smoke alarms aren’t there to be annoying, they’re there to save you. If you’ve burnt your bacon (again), at least you know it’s doing it’s job and letting you know there’s abnormal amount of smoke – do not dismantle it!

    Frequent tests are crucial too – especially if you aren’t a frequent bacon burner! There shouldn’t have to be a ‘day’ to remind people to do this.

    Col