Smoke / CO Alarms

kitchen smoke detector


Request a Smoke Alarm or Carbon Monoxide Alarm

The Charlotte Fire Department partners with many community organizations to provide and install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms to residents upon request.

To request an alarm, or to find out more about this program, fill out the Smoke Alarm/Carbon Monoxide Alarm Request Form

Did you know?

Each year, fire kills more Americans than all natural disasters combined. Stay safe by knowing the top four home fire risks:

  1. The number-one cause of home fires is unattended cooking. Make sure ovens, stoves and other appliances are clean and well maintained.
  2. Remember to keep flammable objects a safe distance from space heaters, fireplaces, and wood stoves.
  3. Do not overload wall outlets with plugs. Use a power strip. Make sure cords on electrical appliances aren't worn, frayed or splitting.
  4. Smoking is the cause of the most fire-related deaths. Use deep ashtrays and empty them often. Never smoke in bed. Keep smoking materials, matches and lighters away from children.


The Importance of Smoke Alarms

  • The death rate per 100 reported fires is twice as high in homes without working smoke alarms as in homes with working smoke alarms.
  • A working smoke alarm increases your chance of surviving a house fire by more than 50%.
  • An estimated 890 lives could be saved each year if all homes had working smoke alarms!

A smoke alarm buzzes when it detects smoke, warning you in time to escape. Smoke alarms can be house current, battery operated, or house current with a battery backup. NOTE: If your electricity goes out, you will not have smoke alarm protection if your alarm does not have a battery.


Maintenance is Important

Your smoke alarm must be maintained properly to provide you and your family with protection.

How do I maintain my smoke alarms?

  • Replace batteries according to the manufacturer's instructions. Remember to change batteries when you change your clocks!
  • Dust the grill of your alarm.
  • Test your alarm monthly or according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Install Location

Follow the manufacturer's guidance on the recommended location of smoke alarms in a house.

Most smoke alarms should be placed on the ceiling or high on a wall near the bedrooms. This enables the alarm to sense the smoke as it approaches the sleeping area.

Install your smoke alarm away from air outlet vents to prevent dust accumulation.

Quantity to Have

There should be a least one smoke alarm on every level of your household. Additional alarms will significantly increase your chances of survival.


A smoke alarm may be purchased at most retail stores for about $10.

Best Type for Residential Use

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, it cannot be stated categorically that one type of smoke alarm is better than any other type smoke alarm in every fire situation that could possibly occur in a residence.

The U.S. Fire Administration recommends that every residence and place where people sleep be equipped with either (a) both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms, or (b) dual sensor smoke alarms (which contain both ionization and photoelectric smoke sensors).

Difference between Alarms

There are two types of smoke alarms: ionization and photoelectric.

Both ionization and photoelectric alarms are effective smoke sensors. Both types of smoke alarms must pass the same tests to be certified.

Ionization alarms respond more quickly to flaming fires with smaller combustion particles; photoelectric alarms respond more quickly to smoldering fires. In either type of alarm, steam or high humidity can lead to condensation on the circuit board and sensor, causing the alarm to sound.

Ionization alarms are less expensive than photoelectric alarms, but some users purposely disable them because they are more likely to sound an alarm from normal cooking due to their sensitivity to minute smoke particles.




Carbon Monoxide is known as the "silent killer."

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is the number-one cause of poisoning deaths in the United States, killing more than 3,800 individuals annually. CO is a colorless, odorless gas. Because you cannot see, taste or smell it, CO can kill you before you know it is there. Symptoms of CO poisoning include flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, confusion and breathing difficulties.

If your carbon monoxide detector alarms, do not hesitate. Go outside and call 911.

CO is a byproduct of incomplete combustion of fossil fuels such as natural gas, oil, wood or coal. Common causes of carbon monoxide poisoning include malfunctioning appliances, furnaces, stoves, ovens, water heaters, charcoal grills and motor vehicles.

How to Protect Yourself:
You should have a UL-approved battery operated carbon monoxide alarm on each level of your home. Batteries should be checked monthly and batteries replaced when you change your clocks.

To protect your family, have a qualified professional check all fuel-burning appliances, furnaces, venting and chimney systems at least once a year or as recommended by the manufacturer.

Click here for more information from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.