Smoke Alarms: New York State Residential Code

In January, New York State began enforcing a new version of the Building Code. We receive many questions about smoke alarms. Where are they required? Do they need to be hardwired?

Well, here is the text from the 2007 Residential Code of New York State:

[F] R313.1 Smoke alarms. Smoke alarms shall be installed in the following locations:

1. In each sleeping room.
2. Outside each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms.
3. On each additional story of the dwelling, including basements but not including crawl spaces and uninhabitable attics.
In dwellings or dwelling units with split levels and without an intervening door between the adjacent levels, a smoke alarm installed on the upper level shall suffice for the adjacent lower level provided that the lower level is less than one full story below the upper level.
When more than one smoke alarm is required to be installed within an individual dwelling unit the alarm devices shall be interconnected in such a manner that the actuation of one alarm will activate all of the alarms in the individual unit. The alarm shall be clearly audible in all bedrooms over background noise levels with all intervening doors closed.
Exception: Interconnection is not required where smoke alarms are permitted to be battery operated in accordance with Section R313.1.2 .
All smoke alarms shall be listed and installed in accordance with the provisions of this code and the household fire warning equipment provisions of NFPA 72.
And here is Section R313.1.2:
[F] R313.1.2 Power source. In new construction, the required smoke alarms shall receive their primary power from the building wiring when such wiring is served from a commercial source, or an on-site electrical power system and when primary power is interrupted, shall receive power from a battery. Wiring shall be permanent and without a disconnecting switch other than those required for overcurrent protection. Smoke alarms shall be permitted to be battery operated when installed in buildings without commercial power or an on-site electrical power system or in buildings that undergo repair, alteration, change of occupancy, addition or relocation in accordance with Appendix J .
And from Appendix J:
AJ504.2 Smoke alarms. When interior alterations occur in existing dwellings, the individual dwelling unit shall be provided with smoke alarms located as required for new dwellings; the smoke alarms shall be interconnected and hard wired.

Exception: Except for bed and breakfast dwellings, smoke alarms in existing areas shall not be required to be interconnected and hard wired where interior wall or ceiling finishes are not removed to expose the structure.

The complete New York State Building Codes are available online here.

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4 Responses to “Smoke Alarms: New York State Residential Code”


  1. 1 kathleen March 26, 2008 at 9:45 am

    While I understand the importance of smoke alarms, it seems that some enterprising individual/company could design smaller devices that are not so noticeable.

  2. 2 Walter Langsford September 12, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    How can smoke detection systems;(in a two family house)interconnected and hard wired according to R 313.1.2 have a central station monitoring as required by A J 604.3.4 when all alarm companies, at least the six I have spoken with, use a 24 volt system which is incompatible? Walter

  3. 3 Jim Salmon September 18, 2011 at 7:09 am

    If building an addition to an existing home built in 1960, is it required that the smoke detection devices be hard wired in the rest of the home?

  4. 4 D.M September 18, 2011 at 11:45 am

    In many cases yes smokes to current code would be required in that case, there are low voltage systems in which use a combination of hardwire and wireless smokes that meet residential code requirements, the wireless smokes are fully supervises by a control system and seperate audible devices are necessary to comply


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