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One-year countdown to smoke alarm law

All homes in France must be fitted with smoke detectors by March 2015

IN JUST over a year, it will be compulsory for all homes in France to have at least one fitted smoke alarm.

The new law comes into effect on March 8, 2015, and requires the owners and occupants of a property to ensure a properly functioning detector is fitted.

The French Ministry of Housing estimates that only 2% of houses in France are currently fitted with smoke alarms, compared to 98% in Norway and 89% in England.

Between 600 and 800 people die in house fires in France every year. Seven in 10 blazes start at night, after people have gone to bed. The ministry believes the number of fatalities would be halved if smoke detectors, which cost between €10 and €20 were fitted.

The ministry, in conjunction with the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, has published the following information to help people select and fit an appropriate detector.

The device should be installed in a corridor or hallway leading to rooms that are used regularly. The sensor should be fitted to the ceiling or at the top of a wall, away from a source of smoke.

The occupant, the owner or agency managing a property is obliged to check the sensor is working properly on a regular basis. CE-accredited detectors are fitted with a ‘test’ button for this purpose.

To avoid smoke detectors that do not meet EU standards the following requirements must be observed:

The unit should be marked with the CE notation

A power indicator must be included

The unit should be powered by batteries that will work for at least a year, or include an AC-power cable

The unit must emit a visual or audible signal, independent of a power source, indicating the absence of batteries or low batteries. The fault signal must be different to the alarm signal.

When it detects smoke, the unit must emit an alarm of at least 85 dB (A) audible at three metres.

The following information must be indelibly marked on the unit: the brand name, address of the manufacturer or supplier number, date of the standard that the detector complies with, manufacturing date or batch number and type of battery to use

The unit should be supplied with instructions for installation and maintenance. It must also have a model certificate that the occupant must provide to an insurer in case of a claim for damage caused by fire.

Photo:Kenneth Lu

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