October is Fire Safety Month – are you up to date?
By Vicki Aubry, Realtor, ABR, SRES, Prudential Prime Properties
It’s no accident that the heating season and Fire Safety Month come at the same time. October is a great time to take stock of items around your home that may need attention and to do some safety updates to your home.
You might have missed this news but as of July 1, 2010 if you have a one to four-family residence and you have oil heat you must upgrade your home heating system equipment to prevent leaks from tanks and pipes that connect to your furnace.
To do so, an oil safety valve or an oil supply line with a protective sleeve must be installed. This can be done by a licensed oil burner technician. The purpose is to avoid costly oil spills that can result in leaving homeowners with a large cleanup bill. In conjunction with insurance companies offering homeowners insurance, most offer their policy holders insurance for when a leak must be cleaned-up their homes. Many also offer “third party coverage” for the cost of dealing with a cleanup that affects groundwater or someone else’s property. Homes built after 1990 have a good chance of already having these, but older homes most likely will not unless the homeowner took steps prior to have the installation done.
As of April 5, 2010. MGL c. 148 26F states updates regarding smoke detectors for residences with five or less residential units.
This latest update affects residences that were built or modified prior to the creation of the Massachusetts State Building Code (Jan. 1, 1975). It is the date of the building permit that determines the smoke detector requirements. For residences permitted after Jan. 1, 1975, the upgrade is recommended but not required.
This change was made due to the many false alarms associated with smoke detectors installed near kitchens and bathrooms.
Essentially, now for these properties all smoke detectors installed within 20 feet of kitchens or bathrooms containing a bath or shower will be required to be photoelectric detectors. You must use either a dual detector containing both ionization and photoelectric technologies or two separate detectors – one photoelectric and one ionization.
Placement for these is required on every habitable level of your home – on the ceiling of each stairway and on the ceiling outside each separate sleeping area. They can be battery powered or hardwired and must comply with the above change in the law.
For homes permitted between 1975 and Aug. 27, 1997 the code requires they must be hardwired and there must also be a minimum of one installed for every 1,200 square feet of living space per level. For homes permitted after Aug. 27, 1997 the law is amended to require one in every bedroom and be hardwired with a battery backup as well.
As of 2006, the law regarding carbon monoxide requirement requires that homes that have either “fossil fuel” burning equipment or an attached garage have carbon monoxide detectors. One is required on every level of the residence including “habitable” portions of the basement and attic and must be within 10 feet of the bedroom door.
Check with your local fire department to be sure you have all your bases covered as the fee for inspection can be pricy especially if you don’t pass the first time and have to schedule another inspection! And you have to pass to sell!
“Better safe than sorry” as my mother used to say. More information can be obtained at www.mass.gov. Or give me a call when you’re ready to sell and I can help you through the process!
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