Revised law requires Illinoisans to upgrade smoke detectors by 2023

Revised law requires Illinoisans to upgrade smoke detectors by 2023

Revisions to the state’s smoke detector law include stricter safety standards, which will require many Illinois homes to buy new devices.

Recent revisions to Illinois’ Smoke Detector Act will require many residents to install new smoke detectors with 10-year sealed batteries by Jan. 1, 2023.

Illinoisans in violation of the law could risk punitive fines. Under the law, local governments can fine residents $100 if they fail to comply within 90 days of receiving a citation, and an additional $100 every 30 days until fines reach $1,500 or the cited resident installs the new device.

Phil Zaleski, executive director of Illinois Fire Safety Alliance, told the Illinois News Network that issuance of such fines is uncommon, however. Enforcement of the law, which is left to local fire departments, largely entails fire department officials replacing old smoke detectors upon discovery when responding to emergency calls.

The updated units will cost residents $15, according to the Illinois News Network, about three times the price of the older 9-volt model. However, Zaleski said, residents will save around $40 to $50 by avoiding battery replacement costs. The new units will also come equipped with a “hush button,” which lets users silence the smoke detector for 15 minutes at a time.

Homes with hardwired units, or units running on Wi-Fi or low-powered radio frequencies, are not required to comply with the revised law. The entire city of Chicago is also exempt, after reportedly pushing back against the changes.

But changes to safety standards, if truly necessary, should not be limited to areas of Illinois without the necessary political clout to push back.

And while well-intentioned, the time and energy state lawmakers devoted to this measure might have been put to better use elsewhere. Growth in pension costs have driven Illinoisans’ property tax burden to among the highest in the nation, punishing homeowners across the state.

If lawmakers continue to ignore the state’s fiscal woes, Illinoisans will have another cause for alarm.

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