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Working smoke detector can save you!

When a fire breaks out, fast action is vital. When a fire breaks out in a flat, temperatures as high as 300 to 400 degrees Celsius develop within four minutes and combustion gases fill the rooms, which means that your chances of survival are poor. A smoke detector detects the combustion gases at low concentrations and makes a loud sound.

Give yourself a chance of survival. A working smoke detector can save you.

According to rescue service accident statistics, in almost every other residential building fire, it has been observed that there was no functional smoke alarm in the apartment. Based on other studies, it can be estimated that about 20 percent of homes completely lack a smoke alarm. In family houses, the obligations for acquiring and maintaining smoke alarms are better fulfilled compared to flats and apartments.

Smoke detector are compulsory in all homes, buildings in which people sleep and care institutions

You must also have a smoke detector in all holiday houses as well as outbuildings and similar where people sleep. You should also have smoke detectors in boats with cabins, caravans and campervans. Note that in these conditions, the service life of the detectors and their batteries, in particular, is shorter than normal. Smoke detectors in flats built after 2009 are connected to the mains and have batteries for backup. This also applies to holiday houses which have electricity. Having carbon monoxide alarms and gas detectors is recommended if there is a fireplace or gas appliances in the building.

Test your smoke detectors once a month

Testing is an important step to ensure that your detector works properly and is ready to operate.

smoke detectors installer

Change the batteries and replace old detectors 

Change the batteries at least once a year. Do this on a date that you can easily remember, such as the national smoke detector day (1 December), Christmas or the first day you spend in your holiday house. Always change the battery immediately if the smoke detector repeatedly gives a quiet beep. Always keep spare batteries handy.

Replace your smoke detectors every 5 to 10 years. The detectors do not last forever, and it is essential that you replace them regularly. Nowadays smoke detector manufacturers mark the recommended time for replacing the detector on its label as a ‘best before’ date. Always replace the smoke detector immediately if you have changed its battery and it still does not work.

Where should I place the smoke detector?

Smoke detectors should be placed

  1. in all bedrooms and other rooms used for sleeping
  2. on escape routes, including the hall
  3. in staircases and other areas with high ceilings

where to install smoke detector in a flat or house

Smoke and heat rise up, which is why the smoke detector should be placed as high as possible on the ceiling, at least half a metre away from any walls and other obstacles. Always follow the installation instructions of the smoke detector. 

If your flat or house is large, it is recommended that you have interconnected smoke detectors. It means that if one smoke detector is triggered, this will cause a general alarm across all the interconnected detectors. Do not install the detector on a wall, in the kitchen, in the vicinity of air vents or in a bathroom. This may cause the detector not to work, work incorrectly or become damaged.

One smoke detector can cover at maximum 60 m2 on a single floor

  • 1 detector is needed in a flat or house with a floor area of less than 60 square metres
  • 2 detectors in a flat or house with a floor area of less than 120 square metres
  • 3 detectors in a flat or house with a floor area of less than 180 square metres

In addition, each floor of the flat or house (including basements and attics) should have at least one working smoke detector.

Smoke is even more dangerous than fire.
Two out of three fire-related deaths are caused by combustion gases.

When the smoke detector goes off – act fast!

The smoke detector detects smoke and alerts you before you can sense or notice anything. Even a small fire fills the flat with smoke very quickly.  A working smoke detector which is in the right place will alert you and wake you up. You only have two to three minutes to escape, try to put out the fire and call 112 for help. When the alarm goes off, act fast!

If the smoke detector goes off unnecessarily

Do not silence the smoke detector by taking it down or taking the battery out. Air the area/room in which the alarm is located. If you repeatedly get unnecessary alerts, move the alarm to a better location. Smoke detectors with a pause button are also available.

where to install smoke detector in ceiling

Purchasing, installing, maintaining and testing a smoke detector and responsibility for smoke detectors

The obligation for the building owner regarding the acquisition and maintenance of smoke detectors comes into effect on January 1, 2026. Fire Rescue Act Section 17.

Traditional smoke detectors

Battery-operated smoke detectors are traditional alarms. Their acquisition, replacement, installation, testing, and maintenance are the responsibility of the resident/occupant until January 1, 2026. Consider in your procurement decision where you place the smoke detector and how it can be maintained and tested.

TEST the smoke detector every month by pressing its test button.

Some smoke detector types are easy to test and maintain as they have a battery case attached to the wall. Purchasing a detector of this type is worth considering, especially for the homes of older people. In addition, some battery cases have a pause button for ‘false’ alarms: the smoke detector can be switched off for about 10 minutes if necessary. After the pause, the smoke detector automatically starts operating normally. 

Mains-powered detectors

The real estate or housing company is usually responsible for maintaining smoke detectors connected to the mains. These detectors are installed in the construction phase and connected to the building's electrical wiring. The places of the detectors are decided in the building's wiring design, and the detectors are installed by a professional electrician. A mains-powered smoke detector has a backup battery in case of a power outage.

The resident or occupant is responsible for testing a mains-powered smoke detector regularly. In a limited liability housing company, the housing company has the primary duty to change the backup battery of a mains-powered smoke detector, rather than the resident. As there are many different models of mains-powered smoke detectors and their technical solutions vary, changing their batteries and the party responsible for this task should be discussed at the housing company’s meeting. If nothing else, the residents should be given instructions for changing the batteries.

A good practice in property maintenance would be that the housing company looks after regularly changing the batteries in mains-powered smoke detectors. For example, this would help to avoid cases where the smoke detector goes off in the middle of the night to indicate that the battery has run out. Depending on the smoke detector model, the representative of the maintenance company may not have the skills or rights to replace the battery, either, and this task should be carried out by a professional electrician.

To prevent false alarms, you should check if the alarm has a so-called pause button. Some manufacturers' models can be silenced, for example while cooking. Similarly, it may be possible to silence the low battery warning for the night.

It is particularly important to give the residents clear instructions on what to do with a mains-powered smoke detector in different situations. Find out about these and other safety practices as soon as you move into your flat.

Read more:

Ministry of the Interior Decree on the Placement and Maintenance of Smoke Detectors (in Finnish)
Government Decree on the Technical Properties of Smoke Detectors (in Finnish)
Smoke alarm requirements, placement and maintenance
Homes have too few working smoke detectors (In Finnish)
Carbon monoxide alarms