Landlord Building & Fire Code Violations Smoke Detectors & Alarms

There is no doubt that smoke detectors save lives. Most residential fires start in the early morning or late at night while residents are asleep. The U.S. Fire Administration has determined that one out of every three fatal home fires occurs between 12:00 Midnight and 5:00AM.

Landlord Building & Fire Code Violations Smoke Detectors & AlarmsNegligent Landlords, Building Owners and Property Management Companies

Massachusetts has strict rules, regulations and building codes that require working smoke detectors in houses, apartments, condos, rental properties, hotel, motels and other buildings. Landlords, building owners and property management companies can be liable for fire related injuries if they fail to install fire detectors or they fail to maintain fire detectors in working condition.

In Massachusetts in 2014, approximately 25% of residential fire victims had no working smoke alarms to warn them. In 11% of these fires, smoke alarms were installed but but failed to operate.

Every second counts in a fire. Working smoke alarms can warn residents of a fire before it is too late to escape.

Board of Fire Prevention Regulation realized that photoelectric and ionization alarms each had strengths and weaknesses. As a result, they passed a new law (527 CMR 32.00 et seq).

The new law requires residential landlords and building owners to install and maintain both ionization and photoelectric smoke detectors.

According to the new law, ionization detectors can not be installed within 20 feet of a kitchen or a bathroom containing a shower or a tub.

These locations produce high levels of steam and require photoelectronic detectors,  a DUAL detector (both ionization and photoelectric ), or two separate detectors (one photoelectric and one ionization).

Massachusetts state law also requires every habitable level of a residential building and basement to a have a working smoke alarm. The following are some laws regarding smoke alarm placement:

  • First FloorSmoke alarms need to be installed on the hallway ceiling near the stair case that leads to the second floor. If there is a also a bedroom on the first floor then an alarm also needs to be installed outside the bedroom door.
  • Second Floor – A Smoke detector needs to be installed on the hallway ceiling common to all bedrooms. Placing it closest to the staircase is ideal. This allows the smoke from a first floor fire to reach to the detector before it reaches the bedrooms.
  • Basement – Smoke detectors are to be installed on the cellar ceiling at the base of the cellar stairs. Smoke alarms should never be installed at the top of the basement stairs. When the basement ceiling is unfinished then smoke detectors should be placed on the edge of the joist (not in the bay between two ceiling/floor joists).
  • General Information – Smoke detectors should be installed on ceilings and no closer than 12 inches from the wall. Detectors should never be installed on the walls except in Mobile Homes.

We You Injured Because of a Defective Smoke Detector in Massachusetts?

If you or a loved one has been injured because a faulty or defective smoke detector failed to work properly, then call the smoke alarm lawsuit lawyers at the law offices of Gerald J. Noonan today. We have a proven track record with over 35 years of legal experience. Our defective smoke detector lawyers have successfully represented victims of fires for decades and we are ready to take on your case today.


We offer a free, no-obligation legal consultation to help you understand your rights and the value of your case.

Our law firm is available to assist clients throughout Massachusetts, including but not limited to: Plymouth County including Brockton, Plymouth, Bridgewater, Wareham, Abington, Rockland, Whitman, Hanson, Holbrook Middleboro; Norfolk County including Quincy, Stoughton, Dedham, Weymouth, Braintree, Randolph, Canton, Sharon, Brookline, Franklin; Bristol County including New Bedford, Fall River, Taunton, Wrentham, Attleboro, Mansfield, Easton, Raynham; and Middlesex County including Cambridge, Lowell, Somerville, Newton, Woburn, Framingham, Malden, Chelsea, Everett, Arlington, Medford and Waltham; Cape Cod, Barnstable, Hyannis, Falmouth; Springfield & Worcester; Essex County including Lynn, Lawrence, Peabody, Haverhill; and the Greater Boston area including, Revere, Dorchester, and Roxbury.New Bedford, Fall River, Taunton, Attleboro, Westport, Dartmouth, Mansfield, Easton, Raynham, Lakeville, Norton; Cape Cod, Hyannis, Falmouth, Barnstable and the Greater Boston area including Cambridge, Somerville, Medford, Everett, Lawrence, Lynn, Revere, Dorchester, Roxbury.

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