Initial checks by Rescue Service personnel found that about two-thirds of the smoke detectors installed in homes as part of a civic safety project were no longer in working order.
The Rescue Service started their checks this week, visiting around 200 homes mainly in southern Estonia, ERR radio reported. Their residents were among the thousands that received the detectors free of charge under the program, which was launched three years ago.
Inspectors found that the most typical problem was that residents had removed the devices' batteries in order to shut off the annoying, low-battery warning signal, but had not bothered to replace them.
The second most common reason for not having a working detector was removal of the device itself by smokers who had frequently triggered the alarm by accident.
Previous surveys have indicated that 90 percent of Estonian homes have a smoke detector, but this week's checks were the first effort to find out how many of the detectors are actually in working order.
The presence of a smoke detector in private homes was made mandatory in 2009.