State law bans sale of smoke detectors with replaceable batteries

Michael Finney Image
Thursday, July 30, 2015
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When you go to buy new smoke or carbon monoxide detector, you will find they are more expensive because of a new law that went into effect in California in July.

CONCORD, Calif. (KGO) -- Smoke detectors can save lives, but for years they have been fairly easy to disable.

When you go to buy new smoke or carbon monoxide detector, you will find they are a bit more expensive because of a new law.

For years, it's been too easy to disable fire alarms in your home. Karin Gornick of San Anselmo knows firsthand. "I have to admit that I take them down often whenever they start beeping. It wakes up the kids. It always seems to happen in the middle of the night and so I take them down and take out the batteries," Gornick said.

In September 2013, three women died in a fire in Pittsburg. Firefighters found smoke detectors in the house, but the batteries had been removed. "Not only were the smoke alarms not installed on the walls, but there were no batteries at all for them to operate. So, these $5 devices more than likely would have been the difference between life and death," Contra Costa County Fire Marshall Lewis Broschard said.

As of July 1, stores in California can no longer legally sell smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors with replaceable batteries. "All our smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors run on lithium ion batters. It's good for 10 years, its tamper proof," explained Ron Yadao, a Home Deport assistant store manager.

These new sealed compartment smoke and carbon monoxide detectors cost more. "It's about a 30 percent increase," Yadao said.

But, you could be saving in the end because you don't have to pay for replacement batteries every six months. "I think where you're really going to save as far as like not only financially, but we're saving the environment because we're reducing the amount of batteries people are purchasing and disposing of," Yadao said.

Although the law went into effect a few years ago, the stores had until this July to conform to the new rules.