Smoke alarm requirements, placement and maintenance

Smoke alarms must meet the requirements of standard SFS-EN 14604 Smoke alarm devices. The standard is sold by the Finnish Standards Association SFS. Smoke alarms’ compliance with requirements is attested with a CE marking.

Smoke alarms that can be connected directly to the mains electricity must be installed into new houses. The requirement also applies to holiday homes.

Acquisition and maintenance of smoke alarms

It is the duty of the occupant of the flat, i.e. the resident, to buy a smoke alarm and to keep it in good working order. The resident must check the operation of a smoke alarm each month and replace batteries annually. The power-source of some smoke alarm models does not have to be replaced because it lasts for the entire life-span of the smoke alarm.

In housing companies the housing company shall be responsible for the maintenance and the battery replacement of smoke alarms powered by mains electricity in each flat. As there is a large variety of smoke alarms used in housing, the company shall find out the relevant battery replacement intervals and arrange the replacement regularly. The housing company must provide clear instructions to residents on how to use a smoke alarm powered by mains electricity. The resident of the flat shall bear the responsibility for the regular testing of the alarm's proper function.

The smoke alarm requirements of the Rescue Act will change on January 1, 2024. With the change, the responsibility for the acquisition and maintenance of the smoke alarm will be transferred from the resident to the owner of the building from the beginning of 2026. The change in the law especially affects apartment buildings and townhouses.

Smoke alarms

  • detect incipient fires
  • alert the persons present
  • are usually battery-operated, but there are also cell-powered alarms available
  • may also be connected directly to the mains electricity, in which case batteries are used as a back-up power source to ensure proper function.

Acquisition and placement

Smoke alarms are mandatory in all residences. The smoke alarm must be installed in such a way that it reacts to the smoke caused by the fire as early as possible. There must be at least one smoke alarm for each 60 m2 of each floor of a residence. Legislation: Decree of the Ministry of the Interior on the placement and maintenance of fire detectors 239/2009, 3 §, also available in the service by Tukes

Remember these when placing a smoke alarm:

  • The smoke alarm should be placed in a place where smoke may freely spread.
  • Air flows shall also be taken into consideration in placement, as air flows may prevent fire gases from entering the detector and thus prolong the alert.
  • Alarms should also not be placed in the vicinity of ventilation windows or forced ventilation.
  • Other places not recommended for smoke alarms include the kitchen, wet areas and other places where activity may cause unnecessary alarms.
  • The installation instructions provided with the smoke alarm shall be observed in installation.

Maintenance and replacement

Smoke alarms easily gather dust, which renders them more sensitive and prone to false alarms.

How to maintain a smoke alarm:

  • Test the smoke alarm by pushing the test button once a month.
  • Clean the smoke alarm a few times a year by gently vacuuming or wiping dust off with a slightly damp cloth. Care should be taken not to allow moisture inside the device, as its operation may be impeded.
  • Smoke alarms should always be tested by pushing the test button after cleaning and other maintenance.

To prevent false alarming and ensure operating reliability, a smoke alarm shall be replaced at an interval of 5–10 years. The alarm shall carry an indication of the time of replacement recommended by the manufacturer, usually found at the bottom of the device. Pushing the test button only tests the smoke alarm’s battery and voice alarm, not its ability to detect smoke.

Removal from use

Smoke alarms shall be recycled in the same manner as electrical and electronics equipment.

Smoke alarms shall be returned to recycling stations for electrical and electronics equipment.

Retail outlets are under no statutory obligation to accept electrical and electronics equipment. However, retail outlets are required to advise customers of the nearest official recycling station.

If a retail outlet accepts old equipment from consumers in connection with sales, no separate fee shall be charged. Retail outlets collecting old electrical and electronics equipment from households are entitled to charge the cost of removal to the consumer.