Public Education

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Hillsboro Fire and Rescue is working to reduce injuries, deaths and property loss by providing fire prevention and safety education based on national, state and local data.

United States (US Fire Administration)

  • In 2017 there were 3,400 fire deaths in the United States, a 9.6% increase from 2008 
  • The majority of fire deaths (73.2%) and injuries (76.5%) occur in residential occupancies 
  • Over 50% of residential fires are caused by cooking

 State of Oregon (Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal)

  • In 2017 there were 59 fire deaths in the State of Oregon, compared to 44 deaths in 2016
  • The majoring of fire deaths (70.2%) occurred in residential occupancies
  • The top three causes for residential fires were cooking (18.6%), heating (18.6%), and smoking (6.7%)


  • In 2017 there were 241 fires in the City of Hillsboro

Smoke Alarms

Roughly 70 percent of home fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms or with smoke alarms that are not functioning properly. Smoke alarms are the great safety success story of the 20th century but they are only useful when they are working.

Who should have smoke alarms?

Every home should have at least one smoke alarm. In the event of a fire, a smoke alarm can save lives. A properly installed and maintained smoke alarm will provide early warning to your family and give you time to escape.

Where do I install my smoke alarms?

Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement. Since most fatal fires begin late at night or early in the morning when the occupants are sleeping, you should always install smoke alarms directly outside all sleeping areas and inside each bedroom.

Oregon Administrative Rule 837-045-0050 requires smoke alarms to be installed in each sleeping room as per the applicable requirements of the State Building Code at the time of construction. 

Smoke alarms are not hard to install. In most cases, all you will need is a screwdriver. Follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions.

Smoke alarm placement for your home.

Where should smoke alarms not be installed?

Smoke alarms should not be installed in kitchens, bathrooms, garages, and unheated areas where moisture, steam, frost, cooking vapors, and exhaust fumes could cause a nuisance alarm.

How do I keep them working?

There are two simple steps to remember when caring for your smoke alarms.

  • Check the battery in your smoke alarm once a month by pushing and holding the test button until the alarm sounds.
  • Keep your smoke alarms clean. Dust and debris can interfere with how smoke alarms work. Regularly vacuum your alarm to keep it working right.

What’s Chirping?

The chirping noise lets you know the battery in your smoke alarm needs to be replaced. 

What if the alarm goes off while I am cooking?

Then it is doing its job. Simply press the silence button and clear the air by waving a towel near the alarm.  If this happens frequently, you may want to move the smoke alarm to a new location.

When do I need to replace my smoke alarms?

Smoke alarms should function properly for ten years, but after that time they should be replaced.

You may want to write the purchase date with a marker on the back of your smoke alarm. That way you will know when it should be replaced.

What If I can’t afford a smoke alarm?

Hillsboro Fire and Rescue can provide and install smoke alarms in homes for senior citizens, disabled persons, and people who are living on a low income. If you meet these requirements and are in need of a smoke alarm. please call the Fire Prevention Division at 503-681-6178 to make arrangements to have a smoke alarm installed. 

What if I rent?

Your landlord is required to provide smoke alarms and instructions for testing of the devices. 

As a tenant, you are required to tests the smoke alarms as recommended by the manufacturer’s instructions and immediately notify your landlord of any deficiencies. Testing intervals shall not exceed six months. Tenants also have the responsibility to replace any dead batteries.

For more details see ORS 479.270 and ORS 479.275.

Are smoke alarms required, and where should they be installed, when selling a home?

Yes, they are required. A person may not transfer a real estate title that includes a dwelling unit without a smoke alarms installed in accordance with the State Building Code and Rules of the State Fire Marshal.

For more details see ORS 479.260 and OAR 837-045-0050.

Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that can be harmful or fatal after prolonged or high level exposures. This gas is present in nearly every home and building. If you are exposed to high levels over time or a extreme levels for even just short while, you can be in danger.

What are sources of carbon monoxide?

  • Heaters, fireplaces, furnaces, appliances and cooking sources using coal, wood, petroleum products, and other fuels
  • Products and equipment powered by an internal combustion engine, such as portable generators, cars, lawn mowers, and power washers
  • Car exhaust in an attached garage may leak carbon monoxide into the house even with the main garage door open, putting you at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Operating equipment inside an attached garage increases the risk of introducing of carbon monoxide into a living space

Safe operation of fueled equipment to prevent carbon monoxide risk.

Why is carbon monoxide harmful?

It displaces oxygen in the blood and deprives the heart, brain, and other vital organs of oxygen. The molecules attach to your red blood cells more easily than oxygen molecules, depriving oxygen from getting into the body. This may damage tissues and result in death.

Especially at risk are:

  • Unborn babies
  • Infants
  • Older adults
  • People who smoke
  • People with chronic heart disease, anemia, or respiratory problems

What are symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

Initial symptoms are similar to the flu, but without the fever:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Skin may turn bright red
  • Severe symptoms include: mental confusion, vomiting, loss of muscular coordination, loss of consciousness

What is a carbon monoxide alarm?

  • Detects carbon monoxide
  • Produces a distinctive audible alert when carbon monoxide is detected
  • Complies with ANSI/UL 2034 or 2075 or other nationally recognized testing laboratory
  • May be a separate stand alone unit or part of detection and alarm system
  • May be hardwired, battery operated, plug-in, or a combination smoke/carbon monoxide alarm

Where do I install a carbon monoxide alarm?

Install carbon monoxide alarms on each level of your home with bedrooms (sleeping areas). An alarm must be located within each bedroom or within 15 feet outside of each bedroom door. Bedrooms on separate floors in a structure containing two or more stories require separate alarms. Install in accordance with the manufacturer's recommended instructions.

When the laws were implemented and changed in the State of Oregon?

Oregon law requires carbon monoxide alarms to be installed following specific House Bill 3450 implementation dates:

  • JULY 1, 2010

Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM) Administrative Rules become effective.

For all new rental agreements, landlords must provide properly functioning carbon monoxide alarms for rental dwelling units with, or within a structure containing, a carbon monoxide source.

  • APRIL 1, 2011 

Landlords must provide properly functioning carbon monoxide alarms for all rental dwelling units with or within a structure containing a carbon monoxide source.

Home sellers of one-and two family dwellings, manufactured dwellings, or multifamily housing units containing a carbon monoxide source must have one or more properly functioning carbon monoxide alarms before conveying fee title or transferring possession of a dwelling.

Oregon Building Codes Division (BCD) adopts rules such that carbon monoxide alarms are required for new residential structures submitted for plan review as of April 1, 2011. Carbon monoxide alarms are required in residential structures that undergo reconstruction, alteration or repair for which a building permit is required. Affected “residential structures” are those identified in Section 310 of the Oregon Structural Specialty Code (OSSC) as a residential Group R occupancy. Examples of these uses may be characterized as; hotels, motels, apartments, dormitories, fraternities, sororities, one- and two-family dwellings, townhouses and residential care/assisted living facilities. In addition, SR-3 and SR-4 occupancies as defined in OSSC Appendix SR are included as they are principally built to ‘residential’ standards.

Where should carbon monoxide alarms NOT be installed?

  • Garages and kitchens
  • Extremely dusty, dirty or humid areas
  • In direct sunlight or areas prone to temperature extremes (i.e. unconditioned crawl spaces or attics)
  • In electrical outlets covered by curtains or other obstructions
  • Near ceiling fans, heat vents, air conditioners, fresh air returns, or open windows (blowing air may prevent carbon monoxide from reaching the sensors)

How often do I replace my carbon monoxide alarm?

  • Most carbon monoxide alarms have a 5-7 year limited warranty, depending on the manufacture
  • Most brands will chirp when they are past their date of expiration

How do I keep my carbon monoxide alarm working?

  • Test alarms monthly
  • Use canned air or vacuum alarms regularly to remove dust and cobwebs
  • Never disconnect or remove alarm batteries for other use.
  • For battery operated alarms, replace the battery at least once per year (combination carbon monoxide/smoke alarms are NOT required to have a 10-year battery (OAR 837-047-0150)

What should I do when the carbon monoxide alarm sounds?

  • Don’t ignore the alarm!
  • Move everyone outside to fresh air and call for help from a fresh air location
    • If anyone is experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, call 9-1-1
    • If no one has symptoms, ventilate the building and contact a qualified service technician   

Carbon Monoxide Information for Realtors, Home Sellers, and Home Buyers

Are carbon monoxide alarms required when selling a home?

If you have a carbon monoxide source, carbon monoxide alarms are required to sell a home. Effective April 1, 2011, sellers of one- and two-family dwellings, manufactured dwellings, or multifamily housing containing a carbon monoxide source must have one or more properly functioning carbon monoxide alarms before conveying fee title or transferring possession of a dwelling. (OAR 837-047-0120)

Homes built during or after 2011 require a carbon monoxide alarm regardless of a carbon monoxide source.    

Carbon Monoxide Information for Property Management, Landlords, and Tenants

Are carbon monoxide alarms required in rental dwelling units?

If you have a carbon monoxide source, carbon monoxide alarms are required in rental dwelling units. Effective April 1, 2011, landlords must provide properly functioning carbon monoxide alarms for all rental dwelling units with or within a structure containing a carbon monoxide source. The landlord shall provide a new tenant with alarm testing instructions. If a carbon monoxide alarm is battery-operated or has a battery-operated backup system, the landlord shall supply working batteries for the alarm at the beginning of a new tenancy.    

What are my obligations as a tenant?
Test the carbon monoxide alarm at least once every six months and replace batteries as needed in any carbon monoxide alarm provided by the landlord and notify the landlord, in writing, of any operating deficiencies. A tenant may not remove or tamper with a carbon monoxide alarm.

Additional Resources

Kitchen Fire Safety

Hillsboro Fire and Rescue Department reminds you to be safe when cooking.

Cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires and home fire injury. Hillsboro Fire is joining a statewide effort to address the issue and reduce the number cooking related fires.

The most common cause of these fires is unattended cooking. The fire often starts within the first 15 minutes of cooking, showing that there is no safe period of time to leave cooking food unattended. These fires are preventable.


  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking food on the stovetop, and keep items that can burn away from the stove
  • If a fire starts in a pan, slide a lid (or cookie sheet) over it to smother the fire
  • When cooking, don’t wear loose long sleeves that can catch fire, or catch on pan handles
  • Keep a 3-foot child and pet free zone around your cooking area
  • If you can’t put the fire out, get everyone safely out of the home and then call 9-1-1
  • If you can, close doors behind you when escaping, it will help contain the fire

Don't leave the kitchen while cooking.