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The City of Portland, Oregon

Fire & Rescue

Always Ready, Always There

Phone: 503-823-3700

Fax: 503-823-3710

55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204

More Contact Info

Holiday Gift Idea




Nearly two-thirds of fire deaths happen in homes without working smoke alarms. Smoke alarms cut your chances of dying in a house fire in half. You are at greatest risk when you’re asleep, so make sure your smoke alarms are up to-date, working, and installed correctly.  What better way to say “I love you” this holiday season than with new smoke alarms?

Confused by the many different products on the market?  Not sure what to buy?  Find out more below, but don’t worry too much . . . all smoke alarms available in Oregon stores meet current safety standards.  Here is what’s really important:


  • Replace smoke alarms that are more than 10 years old, including hard-wired alarms, even if they still work.
  • Install an alarm
    • in every bedroom,
    • in hallways outside bedroom areas, and
    • on every level of your home, including the basement.
  • Install alarms on the ceiling, at least 12 inches from the wall.  If the room has pitched ceilings, install it near the ceiling's highest point.
  • If you can’t install it on the ceiling, place it on a wall between 4 and 12 inches from the ceiling.


  • Test your alarms every month by pushing the test button.
  • Don’t paint or put stickers on smoke alarms.
  • Never change the battery in a new-technology smoke alarm.


There are two main smoke alarm types, ionization and photoelectric.  Both types come in portable and hard-wired models.  All of them are effective.  Basic alarms cost between $10 and $40 each, and last up to 10 years. 

  • Ionization alarms contain a long-life lithium battery and a “hush” feature.  These alarms generally respond fastest to flaming fires.  This is a good choice near kitchens, where cooking fumes might set off the alarm.
  • Photoelectric alarms contain conventional 9-volt batteries, but lack a hush feature.  These alarms generally respond fastest to smoldering fires, which is important when people are asleep.
  • If someone in your household is deaf or hard of hearing, consider installing smoke alarms with strobe lights or vibration features.


Call Portland Fire & Rescue at 503-823-3700 and talk to our Public Education staff.  We’ll be happy to help.

Working smoke alarms save lives!



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