From 1 January this year, smoke detectors are mandatory in every home in Flanders. In the Netherlands, this legal obligation will take effect in 2022. It is not without reason that Belgium is at the forefront of this. Compared to the Netherlands, there are three times more deaths from house fires. This is mainly attributed to a different safety mentality. Many more smoke detectors have been installed in the Netherlands, although legislation is more flexible in this area.
How does a smoke detector work?
Only so-called optical smoke detectors are allowed. These smoke detectors are equipped with a transmitter that emits an infrared light beam and a receiver. When smoke enters the detector, the light is bounced off to the receiver and this triggers an alarm.
What should you pay attention to when buying smoke detectors?
Optical smoke detectors are available in different versions. There are mains powered smoke detectors, but the most sold and easiest to install models have a battery. The fire brigade recommends choosing a model with a non-replaceable battery that will last 10 years. There are also models with a replaceable battery, but then you regularly get annoying beeps that warn that the battery is due for replacement. Look for the labels CE and EN 14604 on the packaging. These indicate that the smoke detector complies with European standards.
How many smoke detectors should you install and where should they be located?
Ideally, every room has a smoke detector, except for the kitchen, bathroom and garage, where vapor and exhaust smoke present a high risk of false alarms. Of course, a fire can also break out here, so it is advisable to install a smoke detector in the vicinity of these areas.
To meet the legal obligation for self-contained houses, you must place at least one smoke detector on each floor. This also applies to the basement and the attic, insofar as they can be used daily and accessed directly. This obligation does not apply to an attic or cellar that can only be entered with the aid of a ladder or via a trapdoor.
The best place for a smoke detector
• In the hall or staircase on every inhabited level of the house
• On the landing, as close to the bedrooms as possible
• Not near an open window, ventilation hole, mechanical fan, above a radiator, or other heating appliance
• Not directly in front of the kitchen or bathroom door
• In the center of the ceiling at least 30 cm from the corner.
• If approved by the manufacturer, the smoke detector can also be mounted on the wall. Install the detector as high as possible, but at least 15 cm from the ceiling and 30 cm from the corner.
Installing a smoke detector in 5 steps
1: Mark the place
Using a pencil, mark the screw holes on the mounting plate.
2: Drill the screw holes
Drill the screw holes and insert the plugs.
3: Attach the mounting plate
Attach the mounting plate with the supplied screws.
4: Attach the detector
Attach the detector to the mounting plate. Check that it is properly fixed.
5: Test the smoke detector
Press the test button to test the alarm.
Tip: Also read our blog article Working safely with a ladder.
Maintenance of smoke detectors
To ensure that the installed smoke detectors will actually warn you in the event of a fire, it is advisable to test them at least once a month with the test button. That is also a good time to remove any dust. And superfluously: never cover or paint the smoke detector.