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New ordinance requires smoke detectors with non-renewable 10-year batteries

MILWAUKEE -- An ordinance passed by the Milwaukee Common Council last year mandates smoke detectors with non-renewable 10-year lithium batteries be installed in Milwaukee homes -- and officials with the Milwaukee Fire Department are working to spread the word about the new requirement.

"We had nine fire deaths this year. Six of those fire deaths were in homes with no working smoke alarm," said Lt. Michael Ball with the Milwaukee Fire Department.

The new mandate is an effort to prevent these tragedies.

"As of Oct. 1, 2017, the city came up with an ordinance that requires all homeowners to have a 10-year or more sealed battery smoke alarm, so no longer should we have smoke alarms that have the disposable nine-volt batteries. They are so sensitive, which is good. You want that. It gives your family time to react and get out the house quickly," said Lt. Ball.

These smoke detectors also have features like a hush button if, perhaps, it goes off while you're cooking and there's not a true emergency.

"Simply push the bottom and it will silence the alarm for about five  to 10 minutes, and rearms automatically. You don't have to take it off the ceiling anymore," said Lt. Ball.

While we're all reminded to check our smoke detector batteries when Daylight Saving Time begins or ends, Ball said we should be doing that monthly.

"This is a 24-hour nose. It's always sniffing -- always working," said Lt. Ball.

MFD officials are working to remind homeowners and landlords alike that this required switch is critical.

"We really want to make sure everyone has that smoke alarm. It makes such a huge difference in saving everyone's life in the house," said Lt. Ball.

If you cannot afford to upgrade your smoke detectors, the Milwaukee Fire Department has a 24-hour hotline you can call, and firefighters will come to your home and install a smoke alarm free of charge: 414-286-8980.