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VIDEO: Where does one need to have smoke and carbon monoxide (co) detectors installed?

Charles Cherney

Passionate about teaching after graduating from Harvard, I ultimately found myself drawn into the world of real estate in Cambridge and Somerville...

Passionate about teaching after graduating from Harvard, I ultimately found myself drawn into the world of real estate in Cambridge and Somerville...

May 27 5 minutes read

Where does one need to have smoke and carbon monoxide (co) detectors installed?

The short answer is that in the state of Massachusetts, you need smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed and functioning on every level of your home (including the basement) AND within 10 feet of every bedroom. Additionally, smoke detectors are to be installed on the ceiling of all stairways on all floor levels.

In Massachusetts, the law requires that when a residential property is going to be sold, the local fire department visit the property prior to the closing to inspect that the property has functional smoke detectors and carbon monoxide (co) detectors installed in all the proper places. The fire department then issues a certificate that the property has PASSED inspection. The original smoke/co inspection certificate is REQUIRED for the property to close.

As a listing agent for my seller clients, I help make sure that the property is equipped with functional smoke and co detectors in all the right places prior to the fire department inspection. If you have a question about the requirements of the law as they pertain to your property, be sure to contact your local fire department for guidance.

As of December 1, 2016, the state of Massachusetts passed a new law that impacts one- and two-family residences built before January 1, 1975, that have not been substantially altered.
In these residences:
- Smoke alarms must be photoelectric
- Smoke alarms must have a hush feature to silence nuisance alarms
- Smoke alarms must have 10-year, sealed, non-rechargeable, non-replaceable batteries
CLICK HERE to see the pdf from the state of Massachusetts Fire Marshal on this new law.

The requirement in Massachusetts for carbon monoxide detectors on every level and within 10 feet of each bedroom has not changed since 2006. CLICK HERE to see the pdf from the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services on carbon monoxide detectors.

The requirement that the fire department visit the property prior to closing to insure that the property has functional smoke and co detectors in all the right places is a good thing.

Working with seller clients in Cambridge and Somerville over the years, here are a few pro tips:
- Do not wait until the last minute. Early on in the process, check to make sure you have functional smoke and co detectors in all the right places. An experienced listing agent can give guidance.
- If you have a hard-wired system and one or more of the detectors is not functional, you likely will need to hire an electrician to resolve the matter. Note that it may be necessary to order like-kind replacement detector(s) that work with your system. This can take time. Plan accordingly.
- Remember, in Cambridge and Somerville, the smoke/co inspection certificate issued by the fire department is good for 60 days after it is issued. Make sure the certificate is still valid for the closing date. When the certificate is issued, review the certificate for accuracy.
- Best to book your smoke/co inspection in advance with the fire department. It can be challenging to get an appointment right away, especially in Somerville. PLAN AHEAD. Please note that Somerville does offer an expedited service for an additional fee.
- In Cambridge, smoke/co inspections take place on Tuesdays and Thursday, between 9:30 and 11 AM.
- In Somerville, smoke/co inspections are by appointment for a specific day and time.
- In Somerville, for buildings with fire safety sprinkler systems, you will also be expected to have A) copy of inspection of fire safety system, dated within the last 12 months and B) copy of monitoring agreement, dated within the last twelve months. Check with the building management or condo association regarding these matters. If either A) or B) are not in place, you will need to formulate an action plan to have the matter resolved. This takes time.

CLICK HERE to see information regarding smoke/co detectors and inspections from the Cambridge Fire Department.

CLICK HERE to see information regarding smoke/co detectors and inspections from the Somerville Fire Department.

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