CWS Fire Safety - Brandschutz - Rauchwarnmelder

Smoke detectors - mandatory and maintenance

Smoke detectors must be serviced regularly. You can find out who is responsible here.

13 August 2021 Fire Safety

Today, Friday 13 August, is nationwide Smoke Detector Day. When was the last time your smoke detector was checked? The maintenance of smoke detectors is mandatory every year, but who is responsible varies in the federal states. We give you an overview in our new blog article.

Difference for existing buildings

Haus Wohnung Rauchmelder

It all started in Rhineland-Palatinate, where apartments have been equipped with loud beeping smoke alarms since 2003. The Saarland, Hesse and Schleswig-Holstein followed suit. Little by little the other federal states followed suit. All 16 federal states agree on new buildings and renovations. The installation of smoke detectors is mandatory everywhere here. When it comes to retrofitting existing buildings, Saxony is an exception: unlike in other countries, there is no obligation to retrofit. A rule according to which the smoke alarms should come to the ceiling by 2025 has not been adopted in the planning. In the remaining 15 countries, all transition periods for existing buildings have long expired.

Responsible for smoke detector installation and maintenance

Who is now responsible for the installation and maintenance of smoke detectors in Germany? The distribution of responsibilities is laid down in the state building regulations (LBO). Six of them make the landlord responsible, ten the tenants or occupants and thus also owner-occupiers. See the exact specifications for each federal state below!

Owners may shift their maintenance obligations resulting from the LBO on to the tenants. Both sides must agree on this by mutual agreement. However, landlords are not off the hook: Ultimately, they have to check whether their tenants actually maintain and test the installed smoke alarms. If they don't, secondary liability applies - if something happens, it's the landlord's turn.

If owners want to minimize their liability risk as much as possible, they should entrust both the installation and regular maintenance to a qualified fire protection service provider such as CWS Fire Safety.

Annual maintenance of smoke detectors

During smoke detector maintenance, the functionality of the smoke detectors is checked at least once every twelve months in accordance with DIN 14676. Defective smoke detectors are usually replaced immediately to ensure the safety of the residents. The service provider records its work in a court-proof manner. Landlords can pass on the costs of installation and maintenance to their tenants.

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Penalties for disregarding the smoke detector obligation

If a landlord does not install smoke detectors in his rented flats, he can be fined up to 50,000 euros.

If people are injured in a fire because smoke detectors were missing or not working, they could face criminal proceedings for negligent bodily injury or, in the worst case, negligent homicide. This can be punished with up to five years in prison.

In case of fire, insurance companies can reduce their benefits.

Correct placement of smoke detectors

Platzierung Rauchmelder

The respective LBOs stipulate in which rooms smoke alarms must be installed. The principles "In dwellings, bedrooms and children's rooms as well as corridors over which escape routes from common rooms lead must each have at least one smoke detector. The smoke detectors must be installed and operated in such a way that fire smoke is detected and reported at an early stage" apply to both new and existing buildings.

Smoke detectors warn with an acoustic signal if the toxic smoke gas enters the measuring device of the smoke detector. You then have 120 seconds to get yourself and other people to safety!

Overview per federal state

Smoke detector obligation and maintenance

Baden-Württemberg

  • Obligation to install smoke detectors for new buildings and renovations as well as for existing buildings.
  • Owners must install smoke detectors (for owner-occupied and rented living space)
  • Maintenance in rented apartments by tenants or residents of the apartment
  • Maintenance in self-used living space by the owner

Bavaria

  • Obligation to install smoke detectors for new buildings and renovations as well as for existing buildings.
  • Owners must install smoke detectors (for owner-occupied and rented living space)
  • Maintenance in rented apartments by tenants or residents of the apartment
  • Maintenance in self-used living space by the owner

Berlin

  • Obligation to install smoke detectors for new buildings and renovations as well as for existing buildings.
  • Owners must install smoke detectors (for owner-occupied and rented living space)
  • Maintenance in rented apartments by tenants or residents of the apartment
  • Maintenance in self-used living space by the owner

Brandenburg

  • Obligation to install smoke detectors for new buildings and renovations as well as for existing buildings.
  • Owners must install smoke detectors (for owner-occupied and rented living space)
  • Maintenance in rented apartment by owner
  • Maintenance in self-used living space by the owner

Bremen

  • Obligation to install smoke detectors for new buildings and renovations as well as for existing buildings.
  • Owners must install smoke detectors (for owner-occupied and rented living space)
  • Maintenance in rented apartment by owner
  • Maintenance in self-used living space by the owner

Hamburg

  • Obligation to install smoke detectors for new buildings and renovations as well as for existing buildings.
  • Owners must install smoke detectors (for owner-occupied and rented living space)
  • Maintenance in rented apartments by tenants or residents of the apartment
  • Maintenance in self-used living space by the owner

Hesse

  • Obligation to install smoke detectors for new buildings and renovations as well as for existing buildings.
  • Owners must install smoke detectors (for owner-occupied and rented living space)
  • Maintenance in rented apartments by tenants or residents of the apartment
  • Maintenance in self-used living space by the owner

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

  • Obligation to install smoke detectors for new buildings and renovations as well as for existing buildings.
  • Owners must install smoke detectors (for owner-occupied and rented living space)
  • Maintenance in rented apartments by tenants or residents of the apartment
  • Maintenance in self-used living space by the owner

Lower Saxony

  • Obligation to install smoke detectors for new buildings and renovations as well as for existing buildings.
  • Owners must install smoke detectors (for owner-occupied and rented living space)
  • Maintenance in rented apartments by tenants or residents of the apartment
  • Maintenance in self-used living space by the owner

North Rhine-Westphalia

  • Obligation to install smoke detectors for new buildings and renovations as well as for existing buildings.
  • Owners must install smoke detectors (for owner-occupied and rented living space)
  • The immediate owner must ensure the operational readiness of the smoke alarm device, unless the owner assumes this obligation himself.
  • Maintenance in self-used living space by the owner

Rhineland-Palatinate

  • Obligation to install smoke detectors for new buildings and renovations as well as for existing buildings.
  • Owners must install smoke detectors (for owner-occupied and rented living space)
  • Maintenance in rented apartment by owner
  • Maintenance in self-used living space by the owner

Saarland

  • Obligation to install smoke detectors for new buildings and renovations as well as for existing buildings.
  • Owners must install smoke detectors (for owner-occupied and rented living space)
  • Maintenance in rented apartment by owner
  • Maintenance in self-used living space by the owner

Saxony

  • Obligation to install smoke detectors for new buildings and renovations. Existing buildings are currently not required to have smoke detectors, but this is in planning from 2024.
  • Owners must install smoke detectors (for owner-occupied and rented living space)
  • Maintenance in rented apartment by owner
  • Maintenance in self-used living space by the owner

Saxony-Anhalt

  • Obligation to install smoke detectors for new buildings and renovations as well as for existing buildings.
  • Owners must install smoke detectors (for owner-occupied and rented living space)
  • Maintenance in rented apartment by owner
  • Maintenance in self-used living space by the owner

Schleswig-Holstein

  • Obligation to install smoke detectors for new buildings and renovations as well as for existing buildings.
  • Owners must install smoke detectors (for owner-occupied and rented living space)
  • Maintenance in rented apartments by tenants or residents of the apartment
  • Maintenance in self-used living space by the owner

Thuringia

  • Obligation to install smoke detectors for new buildings and renovations as well as for existing buildings.
  • Owners must install smoke detectors (for owner-occupied and rented living space)
  • Maintenance in rented apartment by owner
  • Maintenance in self-used living space by the owner

Who pays when the fire brigade comes?

In general, if there is any indication of a fire - including a beeping smoke alarm - the fire brigade will come. If a false alarm is found in retrospect, the alarming party does not have to fear any costs for the operation.

If the fire brigade forcibly gains access to the scene of the fire, landlords cannot demand compensation from their tenants for any damage caused.

Feuerwehr bei Rauchmlederauslösung

What did the smoke detector requirement bring?

An evaluation of the “Smoke alarms save lives” initiative showed that an average of 68 people were saved from death each year. (1)

Use today's Smoke Alarm Day to check your smoke alarms:

  1. Press the test button, an alarm tone should trigger.
  2. Wipe the smoke detector with a damp cloth so that dust and dirt keep the sensors free.
  3. Check e.g. after a new installation that there are no obstacles within a radius of 50 cm around the smoke detector.
  4. If your smoke detector is more than 10 years old, you need a new device. The date of manufacture is usually noted on the back of the detector.

If you have any questions or would like to receive an offer for the installation or maintenance of a smoke detector, please write to us!

Do you have any questions about mandatory smoke detectors or maintenance?

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Source: (1) https://www.rauchmelder-lebensretter.de/aktuelle-studie-zu-brandtoten-in-deutschland-rauchmelder-retten-nachweislich-leben/