Smoke detector obligation in Hesse: the legal details

Hesse is one of the federal states that have already established an official smoke detector obligation quite early. Since 2005, § 13 of the Hessian Building Code (HBO) applies, however, granted retrofitting.

For which apartments is the smoke detector mandatory in Hesse?

The regulations generally apply to all Hessian apartments, for new buildings and conversions from the day of the legislative decree on 24 June 2005. The retrofitting obligation for existing buildings expires on 31.12.2014. Until then, older homes must have smoke detectors.

The said retrofit obligation for older houses decided the Hessian Member of Parliament later, namely in 2011. Since then, no apartment in the state of Hesse is more exempt from the obligation of smoke detectors.

Regulations in Hesse: In which areas do smoke detectors belong?

The fifth paragraph of § 13 HBO names the premises that must be equipped in Hesse with at least one smoke detector. This includes all bedrooms and children's rooms as well as corridors and escape routes from common rooms.

Of course, every homeowner or tenant may install more smoke detectors in their four walls than prescribed. Frequently, such a detector also finds its place in the living room, bath and kitchen are less suitable as mounting locations due to the strong water vapor development.

For the kitchen as a fire-prone area there is the possibility of installing a heat detector, which only reacts to water vapor, if this contributes to a strong heating of the air. In larger kitchens, you simply do not mount your smoke detector near the hearth.

Who is responsible for installation and maintenance?

In the state of Hesse, the law obliges the owner of the respective apartment for the purchase and installation of smoke detectors. For rental apartments, the responsible person is therefore the landlord.

The smoke detector obligation also stipulates that the owner of each apartment must ensure the operational readiness of all installed devices. Owner is the immediate user, so rented by tenants.

To ensure operational readiness, regular maintenance of all detectors and replacement of the batteries is required. To replace a defective smoke detector, the tenant requests a new device from his landlord.

Can the maintenance obligation be transferred to the landlord?

The Hessian law states that the respective landlord can take over the maintenance obligation instead of the tenant. However, tenants should have this certified in writing in order to have proof in case of emergency. In addition, the tenant must grant access to his apartment.

Have the smoke detectors serviced by a specialist

The annual smoke detector maintenance can also be carried out by a contracted specialist. DIN14676 stipulates that such persons must first provide proof of competence in the context of a written examination, which includes the following points:

  • Use and function of smoke detectors
  • Contents of DIN standards 14676 and EN 14604
  • Rules for behavior in case of fire
  • Special knowledge about manufacturer-specific features of smoke detectors

If the landlord commissions a suitable specialist, he can transfer the resulting maintenance costs to the additional costs. Because these costs are equated with the maintenance costs for all fire protection systems and safety devices.

How does smoke detector maintenance work?

The maintenance of a smoke detector, however, works so easily that the responsible person can carry it out himself: this saves costs. Above all, you should regularly test the functional readiness of the devices by pressing the corresponding test button at least once a year.

A shrill beep tells you that the smoke detector is working. If the sound stops, try again. If the device remains silent, it either requires a new battery or it is defective.

Also make sure that the smoke chamber openings are completely clear, freeing them from cobwebs and dust. Also check the position of the smoke detector again if the room usage has changed.

When is a battery change?

The legal requirement states that a smoke detector must emit clear beeps at least 30 days before the battery goes out. These consist mostly of a regular beeping, but sounds quieter, as a true, continuous smoke alarm.

Even if the noise can be unpleasant: Do not mount the device and never leave it until you have bought a new one at some point. This puts you in serious danger in case of fire!

Always make sure you have the right batteries and replace the power source as soon as you hear the beep. In this way you enjoy a lasting protection.

When does a smoke detector have to be replaced?

Of course, the person in charge has to replace all defective and irreparable smoke detectors in a home as quickly as possible. This is the case when, despite the new battery no beep in the test sounds.

But even if a device seems to work well, it belongs to the litter after about 10 years. Because then it can be assumed that material fatigue gradually occurs and the smoke detector may soon no longer function reliably.

Tips & Tricks

Preferably operate your smoke detectors with high-quality lithium-based batteries. These cost a lot more, but are characterized by a long life and thus by increased reliability.

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