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Fire detection in the home

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It can take as little as 3 minutes for irretrievable damage to be caused by smoke inhalation.

Smoke Alarms

Many fires happen at night while people are asleep.  Smoke from a fire can put sleeping people into a deeper sleep, it may not waken them. By installing smoke alarms you will have early warning of a fire, which gives you time to act before you and your family are overcome by dangerous smoke and fumes.

  • Four detectors should be installed in the average home.
  • Make sure that all smoke/heat alarms are properly installed and maintained.
  • Test the alarms every week and their batteries every year.

Smoke Alarms - Frequently Asked Questions

How many smoke alarms do I need?

In a standard two-storey house, four detectors should be installed – smoke detectors on each landing and in the living room and a heat detector in the kitchen.

Where do I fit them?

On the ceiling as close to the centre of the room as possible. Make sure that you can hear the smoke alarm at night with the doors closed.

What are the different types of Smoke Alarm?

There are two types of Smoke Alarm “Ionisation” and “Optical”

  • Ionisation Smoke Alarm
    This is the cheapest and most common type of smoke alarm. It is very sensitive to small particles of smoke from “flaming” fires like chip pans. It will detect this type of fire at the early stages and before the smoke gets too thick to escape.
  • Optical Smoke Alarm
    Slightly more expensive type but more effective at detecting larger particles from “slow burning” fires such as smouldering foam or PVC wiring.
    10-year Ionisation or Optical smoke alarms are available and are fitted with a long life lithium battery or a sealed power pack that lasts for 10 years.

How often should I test the smoke alarms?

Smoke alarms require very little maintenance but to ensure it operates when needed:

  • Once a week, test the smoke alarm by pushing and holding the test button until it activates.
  • Every six months vacuum and brush the casing to get rid of dust.
  • Every year change the battery (unless it is a 10 year battery)
  • Every 10 years replace the smoke alarm.

Which smoke alarm is best suited for outside the kitchen?

Optical Smoke alarms are best suited for this position as they are not so sensitive to small particles of smoke like toast cooking or rashers burning but they are ideally suited for larger particles of smoke.

What is a heat detector?

A heat detector does exactly what it sounds like – it detects heat but not smoke or fumes. It is ideal for use in areas where there could be false activations due to steam, burning rashers, car fumes etc.

Contact Details:

National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management
The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government
Rm. G59
Custom House
Dublin 1
D01 W6X0

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Data Protection

The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage requires customers to provide certain personal data in order to carry out our legislative and administrative functions. The Department will treat all information and personal data that you provide as confidential, in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation and Data Protection legislation. Personal data may be exchanged with other Government Departments, local authorities, agencies under the aegis of the Department, or other public bodies, in certain circumstances where this is provided for by law. 

The Department's Data Protection Policy and Privacy Statements, which set out how we will use your personal data, as well as providing information regarding your rights as a data subject, are available on the Department’s website.  They are also available in hard copy upon request from the Data Protection Officer, Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Newtown Road, Wexford, email