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Hagerstown Fire Chief Steve Lohr listens to a presentation about a fire and EMS study for Washington County in this August file photo. Lohr said Thursday that new smoke alarms with long-life batteries are an upgrade over the old ones that used shorter lasting 9-volt batteries.


Beginning Monday, retailers will not be allowed to sell smoke alarms in the State of Maryland unless they have long-life batteries that last at least 10 years.

Hagerstown Fire Chief Steve Lohr said the new smoke alarms are an upgrade over the old ones that used shorter lasting 9-volt batteries.

“We are encouraging everyone to get the new detectors,” he said. “It’s a 10-year battery. That’s the primary advantage.”

Lohr stressed people still should test the new smoke detectors for malfunctions on a monthly basis.

The 2018 Maryland General Assembly passed the law stating that on Oct. 1, all smoke alarms sold in the state will be required to have a long-life battery, which is defined as a “nonrechargeable, nonreplaceable primary battery that is capable of operating a smoke alarm for at least 10 years in the normal condition.”

Anyone who violates the law will be guilty of a misdemeanor and could receive up to a $1,000 fine.

The Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office said that the new alarms already should have been upgraded in rentals and single-family properties by Jan. 1. The alarms have to be installed on every level of the home and outside of sleeping areas.

For homes constructed after July 1, 2013, at least one smoke alarm must be installed in each sleeping room, in the hallway or common area outside of sleeping rooms and in the hallway or common area on each level within a residential dwelling unit. Attics are excluded.

Lohr said he wasn’t sure how many homes in the city have complied with the law.

Hagerstown Fire Marshal Doug DeHaven said the fire department goes door-to-door each spring and checks about 1/5 of the homes in the city to ensure they have compliant smoke detectors.

A majority of the homes have switched over, he said, but the 9-volt versions are still around.

DeHaven said many of the fires he has investigated started in homes where the smoke detector had a dead battery or a battery that was removed.

The alarms cost about $20 each at home improvement stores



Dan Dearth is the daytime public safety reporter for Herald-Mail Media. He can be reached at 301-791-6252 or by email at dan.dearth@herald-mail.com.