New York Mandates Nonremovable Batteries for Smoke-Detecting Devices

The newly adopted legislation affects smoke-detecting alarms sold beginning Jan. 1, 2017.

ALBANY, N.Y. – A new law in New York mandates that smoke-detecting devices must now contain nonremovable batteries with a working life of at least 10 years. The legislation, signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday, affects smoke detectors sold beginning Jan. 1, 2017.

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AB 3057 applies to smoke alarms and contains an important exemption (see text beginning in row 19 of the bill) that exempts “smoke detecting alarm devices which receive their power from the electrical system of the building, fire alarm systems with smoke detectors, fire alarm devices that connect to a panel, or other devices that use a low-power radio frequency wireless communication signal,” from the sealed 10-year battery requirements. The aforementioned exemptions in the bill are the type of smoke detection devices that are typically used by low-voltage professional alarm installation companies, and are referred to as smoke “detectors” whereas smoke “alarms” are referenced as the type of devices that would require this 10-year sealed battery.

The law is intended to keep detectors operating by making it impossible for consumers to disable the device if it goes off while cooking or to borrow the batteries for a kid’s toy or some other use.

The new types of detectors also are meant to address the problem of homeowners’ forgetting to keep fresh batteries in the devices, Robert Leonard, public relations chairman of the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York, told the Buffalo News. Nationally, about two-thirds of fire fatalities occur in places with no smoke detector or no working smoke detector, said Leonard, a Long Island volunteer firefighter.

“The goal of this legislation is to require all stores in New York to only carry the 10-year, sealed battery smoke alarm,” said Leonard, whose group represents 94,000 volunteer firefighters in the state.

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Several of the 10-year models are already available on the marketplace, at a cost of about $25, according to the newspaper. The up-front costs will be higher for consumers, but proponents of the bill say they will save the costs of battery replacement in the long run.

In listening to industry concerns, Cuomo got lawmakers to go along with a change that keeps the law’s effective date at Jan. 1, 2017, but creates an additional two-year window after that before full compliance with the sales mandate must be met, according to the newspaper.

In his approval message, Cuomo said there are “technical” issues that could make the law difficult to implement. He did not identify those issues, but said the sponsors of the bill have agreed to work on amendments in the coming legislative session.

Eleven other states, as well as numerous cities, have variations of a long-life smoke detector mandate, according to the newspaper.

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