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Residential Fire Safety Requirements

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Presented by the Fire Prevention Division, Vermont Department of Labor and Industry


  • Hard wired smoke alarms with battery backup located outside sleeping rooms, and on each level of the apartment. These should be interconnected, installed by a licensed electrician, and positioned to wake up all sleeping occupants. New construction requires smoke alarms in sleeping rooms as well.
  • An egress window in each sleeping room, sized to allow firefighters to effect rescue. The minimum clear opening, when opened in normal operation, must be at least 5.7 sq. ft., with a sill height not exceeding 44 inches from the floor.
  • Ground fault circuit interrupters on bathroom circuits and kitchen outlets within 6 feet of sinks (Also required for wet areas and outdoor receptacles).
  • Reasonably safe wiring, including properly sized fuses(if fuse panels), adequately sized service and an adequate number of receptacles to avoid use of extension cords.
  • Reasonably safe and well maintained heating plants. Annual inspections are recommended to be performed by qualified oil or gas technicians.
  • Wood-burning installations with proper clearances from unit and vents to any wall surface, and placed on a non-combustible base.
  • Stair tread and risers within reasonable standards (generally 8 inch max. riser, 10 inch treads, with circular handrails on one side or the other.
  • Guardrails at decks or porches, 36 inches minimum height, with balusters having spacing not exceeding 4 inches.
  • Basic fire safety knowledge, including: people are most at risk from fire at night, when asleep; smoke alarms must be working to provide early warning; egress windows are meant to provide a second way out; in a fire, one should evacuate all occupants and notify the fire department before any other action (suppression, etc.); and, finally, to never re-enter a burning building.