Smoke alarms and detectors

Smoke alarms 

A smoke alarm is your early warning system, which will detect and alert you to a fire in your home. A smoke alarm will give you and your family valuable time to escape. Smoke alarms should be tested weekly.  Smoke alarms should be fitted: 

  • To the ceiling, 
  • One per level of your home, and 
  • In circulation areas (hallways and landings) that form part of your escape route). 
  • According to manufacturer’s instructions. 
  • Smoke Alarms should be fitted at least 30 cm (12") away from any wall or light fitting and close to the centre of the room. Care should be taken to fit them where you can hear them particularly when you are asleep. 

Free smoke alarm eligibility 

To qualify for a free smoke alarm from Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service, one or more of the following criteria must be met 

  • Over 75 years old 
  • Long term sickness 
  • Have a disability 
  • Be physically unable to fit smoke alarms 

For further details please contact 01743 260 200. 


A simple maintenance plan will ensure that your smoke alarm(s) continues to protect your family.

  • Test smoke alarms weekly (generally by pushing the button, but check on your manufacturer’s instructions for how to test).  
  • Gently remove dust and dirt from inside the casing and on the cover. The soft brush attachment of your vacuum can be used. 

What types of smoke alarm are available? 

There are currently two types of smoke alarms on the market - ionisation and optical (also described as photoelectric or photoelectronic.) 

  • Ionisation alarms - Costing from under £5 these are by far the cheapest smoke alarms you can buy, but this does not mean they are in anyway less effective. They are marginally less sensitive to slow burning and smouldering fires that give off larger quantities of smoke before flaming, but will detect flaming fires such as chip pans quickly before the smoke gets too thick. 
  • Optical alarms - These are more expensive but more effective at detecting larger particles of smoke that are given off by slow burning fires, such as smouldering foam filled upholstery and overheated PVC wiring. 

Each type looks similar and is powered by battery, mains electricity or both. 

When deciding on which type of smoke alarms to buy, you should consider which type of fire is more likely to occur in your home. However, the best protection would be to fit both and make sure that they have a continuous power supply such as mains power with a back-up battery. 

Any smoke alarm that you buy should meet British Standard BS EN14604: 2005 and carry the well-known Kitemark. 

Heat detectors are recommended for your kitchen - to detect fires in kitchens. 

Where should you put a smoke alarm? 

Have at least one smoke alarm in every circulation space on each storey (such as hallways and landings).  Position at least one smoke alarm in the principal habitable room (generally the living room). Have at least one heat alarm installed in every kitchen.Page Break 

Smoke alarms in rented properties 

New safety laws for landlords came into force on 1st October 2015.  The new safety laws make it compulsory for all landlords to fit smoke alarms in rented homes, as well as offering protection against carbon monoxide poisoning. 

The new safety laws make it compulsory for all landlords to: 

  • Fit at least one smoke alarm on each floor of their premises 
  • Fit a carbon monoxide alarm in rooms containing a solid fuel appliance 
  • Check that all alarms are working when a new tenancy starts - with potential penalties of up to £5,000 if they do not comply. 
  • Tenants are required to check the alarms are in working order and notify the landlord if they identify any problems. 

More information about smoke alarms for tenants and landlords 

For further information and advice check out the guidance on the Government website

Hardwired mains connected smoke alarms 

Since 1992 all new build homes have by law had a type of smoke alarm fitted.  Currently, many will be electric interlinked smoke alarms these are hardwired by an electrician into the electric circuit board.  They are usually interlinked through radio-frequency signals. If one smoke alarm detects fire, all alarms go off.  These smoke alarms have a backup battery this is so that should there be a power cut the smoke alarm will still go off if there is a fire.  If a hardwired smoke alarm lets out a gentle beep, this usually means the battery needs replacing.  The homeowner, if physically able can replace the battery and the battery is usually a 1 x 9v.

“Why is my alarm bleeping” - watch the following video

Do not contact the Fire service if you have a faulty hardwired electric smoke alarm you need to contact a qualified registered Electrician.    

Smoke alarms for deaf and hard of hearing people 

Conventional smoke alarms work by emitting a loud noise when smoke is detected, providing the vital early warning of fire, and therefore aiding escape. People who are deaf or hard of hearing need additional ways of making them aware the alarm has been activated, including vibrating pads and flashing strobe lights. 

Deaf people need to place a vibrating pad under their mattress or pillow at night. If smoke is detected, the alarm will sound and set off the pad to assist in waking them. 

British Standard BS5446-3:2015 specifies smoke alarm kits for deaf and hard of hearing people. Products made to this standard give deaf people assurance of quality smoke alarms designed to meet their needs. 

For further advice contact Shropshire Council sensory impairment team: 01743 250529 or email 

Telford and Wrekin sensory impairment team: 07797873866 or visit the website page  

For general information on deafness and hearing loss please contact RNID on 0808 808 0123 or textphone 0808 808 9000 or visit the Action on Hearing Loss website.

Carbon Monoxide detectors 

Carbon Monoxide is the silent killer; get a detector if you have a gas boiler or log burner. 


What is carbon monoxide? 

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, poisonous gas  

produced by incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels, including gas, oil, wood and coal. Carbon-based fuels are safe to use. It is only when the fuel does not burn properly that excess CO is produced, which is poisonous. When CO enters the body, it prevents the blood from bringing oxygen to cells, tissues, and organs. 

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: 

  • A headache is the most common symptom of carbon monoxide poisoning. 
  • Other common symptoms include: 
  • Dizziness and nausea (feeling sick) 
  • Vomiting (being sick) 
  • Tiredness and confusion 
  • Stomach pain 
  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing 

What to do if you have been poisoned 

If you believe you have been poisoned you should preferably seek medical attention at A&E. Inform medical staff you suspect you have been poisoned by CO and give all the information that you possibly can that makes you think this. 

You should request an immediate blood test - you may have been poisoned but a delayed analysis could show a false negative. 

For further information or advice on carbon monoxide