Each level in your home, including the basement or attic if it is regularly accessed, should have its own fire alarm, says the City of Xenia, Ohio, website. Fires can start on any level of a building, and you and your family should evacuate before a fire reaches the floor you are currently on. Separate alarms for each floor also ensure that the alarm is loud enough to wake any sleepers, instead of being muffled by layers of flooring and carpeting.
In most homes with level ceilings, fire alarms should be placed approximately 6 inches below the ceiling on the wall, or 6 inches from the wall if the alarm is mounted on the ceiling. This ensures that rising smoke and heat will set off the alarm. In rooms with pitched or vaulted ceilings, the City of Tucson Fire Department recommends placing the alarm near the peak of the arch. These ceilings draw air differently due to their curved or angled surfaces.
A fire alarm outside each bedroom in the home, including rooms only slept in occasionally, is required by the National Fire Prevention Association's National Fire Alarm Code, states the U.S. Inspect website. The risk of injury and death from fire is much higher if you are asleep as the fire spreads. Some areas of the country require the alarms to be inside the bedrooms instead of outside them. If you sleep with your bedroom door closed, having an alarm inside the room is recommended.
Living areas are a common place for fires to start or intensify, especially if you use space heaters, burn candles or have a fireplace. The Davis, California, Community Development & Sustainability Department recommends placing at least one fire alarm outside each common living area. Place one inside the living room if it connects to the kitchen of the home. Installing an alarm directly in the kitchen is not usually recommended, as normal cooking steam or smoke could set off a false alarm.