Smoke Detectors & Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are required in the common areas of condominium properties and most commercial spaces throughout Chicago. These units are inexpensive and easy to maintain, but also carry legal risk to Board members for non-compliance.

We carry a full range of hard wired and battery-only model detectors for installation throughout your building where needed by Chicago code. When performing the servicing of your building's fire safety equipment, our technicians will perform the following procedures on all existing units:

  • Check Replacement Date: units will be pro-actively replaced on the schedule defined by the manufacturer and listed on the device. (Typically units are to be replaced every 5-8 years)
  • Function Test: units will be tested to ensure each is functioning normally. Faulty or damaged units will be replaced.
  • Battery Replacement: batteries will be pro-actively changed.
  • Compliance Report: results of all testing recorded in the building's compliance report and uploaded to the Fire Safety Portal.

The legal requirements for the placement of smoke and CO detectors within condominium associations and other commercial buildings in Chicago are discussed below.

Smoke Detectors

A fire that begins in a common area of a building, such as a basement or mechanical room, can quickly spread undetected. Fires that occur at night are even less likely to be noticed by a resident. Once a fire starts, it can grow quickly. Smoke detectors provide residents with a warning that a fire or similar emergency exists and supplies critical time so that action can be taken.

For a condo association, you will generally need smoke detectors installed in the following locations: (Refers to common areas only)

  • Stairwells: One unit required at the top of each stairwell.
  • Basement: One unit should be installed in the basement.
  • Electrical Rooms: One unit should be installed to protect these areas.
  • Elevator Rooms: One unit should be installed.

Wired Smoke DetectorBattery Operated Smoke Detector

Smoke and CO detectors are also required within residential units according to Chicago fire code. Fulfilling these requirements is the responsibility of each unit owner, however, and not the association's Board of Directors.

Smoke Detectors - Chicago Municipal Code

The sections of the Chicago Municipal Code related to smoke detectors are as follows:

Not less than one approved smoke detector shall be installed in every single-family residential unit and multiple dwelling units as defined in Chapter 13-56, Sections 13-56-020, 13-56-030 and 13-56-040. The detector shall be installed on the ceiling and at least four inches from any wall or on a wall located from four to 12 inches from the ceiling, and within 15 feet of all rooms used for sleeping purposes, with not less than one detector per level, containing a habitable room or unenclosed heating plant.

In buildings of Types II, III or IV construction, multiple dwellings as defined in Section 13-56-040 and buildings of mixed occupancy having any residential units, shall contain not less than one approved smoke detector at the uppermost ceiling of all interior stairwells. All approved smoke detectors herein required shall be installed on the ceiling, at least four inches from the wall or on a wall located from four to 12 inches from the ceiling.

All approved smoke detectors herein required shall be either the ionization chamber or the photoelectric type and shall comply with Chapters 14-8, 14-16 through 14-36 and 14-44 through 14-72* of the municipal code of Chicago. Detectors shall bear the label of a nationally recognized standards testing laboratory that indicates that the smoke detectors have been tested and listed as a single or single and multiple station smoke detectors. All approved smoke detectors installed in buildings hereafter erected shall be permanently wired to the electrical service of each dwelling unit in accordance with the provisions of Chapters 14-8, 14-16 through 14-36 and 14-44 through 14-72* of the municipal code of Chicago.

It shall be unlawful for any person to remove batteries or in any way make inoperable smoke detectors as provided for in this chapter, except that this provision shall not apply to any building owner or manager or his agent in the normal procedure of replacing batteries. Any person found in violation of this section shall be punished by a fine of not less than $300.00 nor more than $1,000.00 and/or confinement for a period of not more than six months.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors

Carbon monoxide is known as the “silent killer” because it is odorless, tasteless and colorless. If inhaled in high concentrations, carbon monoxide poisoning can happen quickly. This toxic gas is produced by any fuel-burning appliance or fixture, such as a furnace, water heater or gas dryer. Carbon monoxide can build up in a building from malfunctions or improper venting in these devices. Carbon monoxide detectors are a building's main line of defense against CO poisoning.

Wired Carbon Monoxide DetectorCO Detector

For a condo association, you will need a carbon monoxide detector installed in any room containing a heating unit that utilizes fossil fuel. (Refers to common areas only) For example, if your building has a centralized heating system that uses coal, natural gas, kerosene, oil, propane or wood as fuel, a carbon monoxide detector will be required in the same room as the heating system.

Carbon monoxide detectors should also be installed within rooms that contain hot water tanks or laundry dryers that use natural gas. Most condo associations and commercial properties have some type of gas-fueled equipment located within the common areas and will therefore require at least one CO detector.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors - Chicago Municipal Code

The sections of the Chicago Municipal Code related to carbon monoxide detectors are as follows:

In every building that is heated by one main central fossil fuel powered heating unit, and that is not exempted under Section 13-64-200, one approved carbon monoxide detector must be installed in the room containing the central heating unit.

Whenever used in this chapter, the term “fossil fuel” shall include coal, natural gas, kerosene, oil, propane and wood.

 

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Resident Satisfaction

Being pro-active in the maintenance of your building's smoke and CO detectors makes your life easier.

By replacing the batteries within these devices on an annual basis you can avoid the dreaded "chirping" that triggers frustration and complaints from residents.

 

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