Smoke detectors

Clinton Fire Department Engineer Kurt VanDellen changes batteries in a smoke detector in the fire station. The fire department encourages people to replace the batteries in their detectors this weekend when they turn their clocks forward.

Samantha Pidde/Clinton Herald
Herald Staff Writer

The Clinton Fire Department is urging people to replace their smoke detector batteries this weekend when they turn their clocks forward for Daylight Savings time.

“It’s a simple reminder. You change your clocks. You change your batteries,” Lt. DuWayne Ottens, who oversees the department’s smoke detector project, said.

Smoke detector batteries should be changed every year. However, Ottens said changing the batteries twice a year is even better.

“Please remember, smoke detectors save lives. Most of the residential fire deaths in the United States last year happened in homes that did not have working smoke detectors,” stated a press release from Fire Marshal Mike Brown.

The smoke detector program started almost two years ago with the goal of having smoke detectors in every home in Clinton. So far, more than 2,000 detectors have been installed in 1,000 homes. Ottens said the detectors installed by the program have lithium batteries that only have to be changed every 10 years. However, he said people should go around their homes every month and use the test buttons on their detectors to make sure they work.

Ottens encourages people to make sure their homes have the correct number of smoke detectors in the proper locations. Smoke detectors need to be on every floor of a house and should be mounted on ceilings, at least four inches away from walls. Any detectors mounted on walls should be four to six inches from the ceiling.

Smoke detectors should not be placed in kitchens. Ottens said detectors in kitchens will become a nuisance. People will often become annoyed with them and remove the batteries, leaving the area without a working detector. Ottens also recommends that smoke detectors be installed in each sleeping area.

“If you have the door closed and the fire is in your bedroom, if there’s no smoke detector in your bedroom, there is nothing to wake you up,” Ottens said.

Anyone wanting help in changing the batteries in their detectors may call the fire department at 242-0125 or send an e-mail to While the department does have nine-volt batteries available, people are asked to provide their own batteries if possible. Ottens said this is also a good time to remind people that smoke detectors should be replaced every 10 years. Fire personnel are available to install new smoke detectors. Smoke detectors are still available through the program. However, Ottens asks people to provide at least some of their smoke detectors themselves so the project does not run out of detectors.

Ottens encouraged people to call the fire department for any help changing batteries or installing new smoke detectors. He said the firefighters are not going to judge a person’s home. They just want to make sure they are safe. If anyone has called about a smoke detector installation and not heard back from the fire department, Ottens recommend they call again.

“The smoke detector is not going to stop the fire, but it’s going to get them out of the house,” Ottens said.

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