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You know when your milk expires, but do you know that your smoke alarm does?


There’s a good chance that you keep a close eye on the food in your fridge and replace it before it expires, but do you do the same for the smoke alarms in your home? If you’re like most people, you may not even be aware that smoke alarms can expire. That lack of awareness is a concern for the Vandenberg AFB Fire Department.


“We all should know the life-saving impact smoke alarms and the tragedy that can result when smoke alarms aren’t working,” said Jason Haddock, 30th Civil Engineer Squadron risk division chief. “That’s why we’re making a concerted effort to educate Team V about the life span of smoke alarms.”


A recent National Fire Protection Association report cites a study undertaken by Canada’s Ontario Housing Corporation supporting the fact that three percent of smoke alarms will fail within one year. They also say that after 30 years, nearly all the alarms will have failed. They conclude that replacement after 10 years, with roughly a 30 percent probability of failure, is an appropriate balance between safety and cost.


To find out how old your smoke alarm is and its expiration date, simply look on the back of the alarm where the date of manufacture is marked. The smoke alarm should be replaced 10 years from that date (not the date of purchase). The Vandenberg AFB Fire Department also says smoke alarms should be tested monthly, and that batteries should be replaced twice a year or when they begin to chirp, signaling that they’re running low.


With October fast approaching, the Vandenberg AFB Fire Department is promoting this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Don’t Wait - Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years”, to better educate the public about the importance of knowing how old their smoke alarms are and replacing them once they’re 10 years old. Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 9 through 15.


The Vandenberg Fire Department is hosting various events in support of Fire Prevention Week and this year’s campaign. The events will include information displays at the BX and Commissary, home-safety walkthroughs, CDC and school visits from Sparky the Fire Dog, and a parade through base housing.


For more information on smoke alarms and this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Don’t Wait: Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years”, contact the Vandenberg Fire Department Risk Division at 606-4680 or visit