Iowa Department of Public Safety State Fire Marshal Division
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Dual Sensor Smoke Detector Administrative Rules

The State Fire Marshal intends to file administrative rules that will require all new residential construction to be equipped with dual sensor smoke detectors with the effective start date of April 1, 2010.


1. Question: Where can I obtain a copy of Iowa's smoke detector requirements?
  Answer: Code law granting authority to the State Fire Marshal to establish rules on smoke detectors are located under Chapter 100.18 of the Iowa Code and can be accessed from the Iowa General Assembly Web site. When this page appears, insert 100.18 in the search box and click "Submit."

The new administrative rules regarding dual sensor detectors are found in 661 Iowa Administrative Code Chapter 210.

2. Question: What is a dual sensor detector?
  Answer: A dual sensor detector means a smoke detector which contains both an ionization sensor and a photoelectric sensor and which is designed to detect and trigger an alarm in response to smoke detected through either sensing device, or a smoke detector which has at least two sensors and which is listed to Underwriters Laboratory Standard 217, Single and Multiple Station Smoke Alarms, or to another standard approved by the state fire marshal.
3. Question: So how are these detectors different from what I have in my home now?
  Answer: Most detectors in homes currently use 'ionization' technology to detect the smoke.. Some homes may have detectors that use 'photoelectric' technology to detect the smoke. Dual sensor smoke detectors may use ionization and photoelectric sensors combined into one detector or they may have a smoke sensor combined with another sensor, such as carbon monoxide or heat.
4. Question: What if my detectors don't need to be replaced right now?
  Answer: If the smoke detectors in your home currently meet all the manufacturer's recommendations, you are not required to immediately replace them with dual sensor detectors. However, when you have a detector that needs to be replaced, it must be replaced with a dual sensor detector.
5. Question: For purposes of this new rule, what is a "residential property"?

Residential properties include the following:

  • Homes
  • Dormitories - A residential building or portion of a building at an educational institution which houses students in rooms not individually equipped with cooking facilities.
  • Multi-unit Residential Buildings - A residential building, an apartment house, or a portion of a building or an apartment house with two or more units, hotel, motel, dormitory, or a rooming house.
6. Question: Will I notice anything different with the dual sensor detectors?
  Answer: Not really. The appearance, mounting instructions, maintenance, and testing procedures mimic the detectors you currently have in your home. It is important that you read and follow the manufacturer's recommendations that come with the dual sensor detector.
7. Question: What is AC Power?
  Answer: AC stands for Alternating Current and is the power provided in your homes that is used to operate your utilities to include such things as your electric stove, TV, refrigerator, air conditioner, and your lights.
8. Question: What is DC Power?
  Answer: DC stands for Direct Current; power that most commonly comes from a battery, such as your car, or your portable electronic equipment.
9. Question: What does "powered by both AC and DC" mean?
  Answer: This means that the device is powered by both your house current and a back-up battery (most cases a 9 volt battery).
10. Question: What does "Interconnect" mean?
  Answer: It means that the detectors are either electronically or hard wired together so if one detector sounds, all detectors interconnected together will sound.

Please do your part to help reduce the number of fire injuries and death. Properly installed and maintained smoke alarms are the key to ensuring early notification in the event of a fire. This is critical to improving the chance of surviving in a fire!


Iowa Department of Public Safety
State Fire Marshal Division
215 East 7th Street | Des Moines, Iowa 50319 | 515-725-6145

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