Smoke Alarms and Sprinkler Systems

smokedetectorPersonal injury and/or death can occur due to negligence related to installation and/or maintenance of smoke alarms and sprinkler systems.  We often hear in the news terrible stories of a family living in an apartment suffering injuries or death due to the absence of working smoke detectors.  It can be easily assumed that in all such cases there follows a lawsuit against the landlord, apartment owner, and/or the maintenance staff.

While cases such as the above capture the public’s attention, there are many other ways in which a finding of negligence could attach to a responsible party.  They include, but are not limited to:

Design, placement, installation defects.  An example of this includes failure to have an appropriate fire system in place at the time of the fire.  With regard to placement, if a heat or smoke detector is placed too near where a ceiling and wall come together, especially if that area is over a door, the heat and smoke could be diverted and bypass the detection unit completely.  A unit may be installed incorrectly, which renders it useless to detect or protect.

Use of improper devices.  A prime example of this would be use of devices designed for residential use within a commercial facility.

Failure to use combination of smoke/heat detector and sprinkler system where warranted.

Improper placement of detectors and protection.  Usually, devices should be placed in areas of greatest or likeliest hazard.  Additionally, a detector could be placed too high and by the time the smoke or heat reached the device and set off the alarm, the fire could have spread beyond the ability of people to escape.

Inadequate water volume or pressure in sprinkler system.  Or, similarly, an inadequate number of sprinklers to deal with likely hazard.

Delay in response time of detector or sprinkler system.

As with all personal injury matters, a causal relationship must exist between the failure to install, property design or maintain the fire detection/protection system(s) and the injured party’s damages.

I’m Ed Smith, an experienced Sacramento Personal Injury attorney.  If you or someone you know has been injured in a fire and suspect that inadequate fire detection or protection was a factor, please give us a call at (916) 921-6400, or if you are outside of the Sacramento area, call us toll-free at (800) 404-5400.  Check out our comprehensive, informative website,, and our reviews on Yelp and Avvo.



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