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Smart Alarm Choices

Smart Alarm Choices

Smart Alarm Choices an online toolkit

This toolkit was created to help fire service leaders with educational materials to promote advanced smoke alarm education among their personnel and community.

Supported by:
Kidde 
Why Was the Program Developed?
Every home needs smoke alarms
More Public Education Videos

Fire experts recommend that smoke alarms are installed on each floor, in hallways and inside of all sleeping areas. Unfortunately, too many homes are not properly protected with enough working smoke alarms, or they are not tested and maintained. That leaves the people who live in the homes at great risk.

There are many challenges with educating the public about smoke alarms. Technology is changing in the smoke alarm industry; media coverage can be confusing with conflicting information about the effectiveness of smoke alarm and widespread budget cuts in fire department public education programs.

This toolkit was developed in conjunction with Kidde and support of the IAFC Fire and Life Safety section. Bookmark this site and check back regularly as resources will continue to be updated.


Featured Resources

Understanding Smoke Alarm Technologies

There are different types of fires. Some can flame and spread quickly while other fires may take more time to spread but produce more smoke. Any type of fire will pose a danger.

Smoke alarm technology has advanced over the years and consumers today have choices on what technology to use in their homes. While understanding what types of alarms are available is important, it is critical to remember that installing working UL-listed alarms and testing them regularly is the key to providing you additional notice and increased time to escape a fire.

Experts divide home fires into two categories:

  • Flaming fires result from the ignition of items such as flammable liquids, wood or paper, or from open flames, such as candles that ignite other items. These fires produce large quantities of flames and lesser amounts of smoke.
  • Smoldering fires most often occur when smoking materials, such as cigarettes, are left unattended. These fires produce minimal amounts of flames, but larger quantities of smoke.

National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) data shows that 93 percent of all residential fires are flaming and that flaming fires account for 75 percent of residential fire deaths. Together, both types of residential fires claim about 2,980 lives annually (NFPA).

Smoke Alarm Technologies

There are two types of smoke alarm technologies currently available to homeowners: ionization and photoelectric. Smoke alarms may be purchased with either ionization or photoelectric technology, or in a dual-sensor smoke alarm that combines both technologies into one unit.

  • Ionization smoke alarms may detect flaming fires sooner
  • Photoelectric smoke alarms may detect smoldering fires sooner
Experts Recommend Having Both Technologies

The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), along with virtually every other recognized fire authority – including the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) – recommends the installation of both ionization and photoelectric technology to maximize protection from either flaming or smoldering fires.

Since it can’t be predicted what type of fire will start in a home, it is important that both smoldering flaming fires are detected as quickly as possible. Therefore, it is vital that the correct type (technology) of smoke alarm and their placement (location) within the home be utilized correctly. Additionally, you can leverage the strengths of each technology by considering the location and environment they are placed in.

For example, some studies have shown that ionization smoke alarms may be more prone to nuisance alarms, such as those that occur due to cooking. Consumers may reduce that potential by placing ionization smoke alarms at least 20 feet from appliances, or by installing a photoelectric alarm near a cooking area. Most smoking-material fires, which tend to smolder, begin in a den, family room, living room or bedroom. Families with members who smoke may consider installing photoelectric alarms or dual-sensor alarms in those areas.

The most important thing is to ensure that you have working smoke alarms on every floor of your home, inside each bedroom and outside sleeping areas.

  • Topics:
    • Featured Smart Alarm Choices
  • Resource Type:
    • Public education material
  • Organizational Author:
    • External
    • Fire Life Safety Section
    • IAFC
Understanding Smoke Alarm Technologies

There are different types of fires. Some can flame and spread quickly while other fires may take more time to spread but produce more smoke. Any type of fire will pose a danger.

Smoke alarm technology has advanced over the years and consumers today have choices on what technology to use in their homes. While understanding what types of alarms are available is important, it is critical to remember that installing working UL-listed alarms and testing them regularly is the key to providing you additional notice and increased time to escape a fire.

Experts divide home fires into two categories:

  • Flaming fires result from the ignition of items such as flammable liquids, wood or paper, or from open flames, such as candles that ignite other items. These fires produce large quantities of flames and lesser amounts of smoke.
  • Smoldering fires most often occur when smoking materials, such as cigarettes, are left unattended. These fires produce minimal amounts of flames, but larger quantities of smoke.

National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) data shows that 93 percent of all residential fires are flaming and that flaming fires account for 75 percent of residential fire deaths. Together, both types of residential fires claim about 2,980 lives annually (NFPA).

Smoke Alarm Technologies

There are two types of smoke alarm technologies currently available to homeowners: ionization and photoelectric. Smoke alarms may be purchased with either ionization or photoelectric technology, or in a dual-sensor smoke alarm that combines both technologies into one unit.

  • Ionization smoke alarms may detect flaming fires sooner
  • Photoelectric smoke alarms may detect smoldering fires sooner
Experts Recommend Having Both Technologies

The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), along with virtually every other recognized fire authority – including the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) – recommends the installation of both ionization and photoelectric technology to maximize protection from either flaming or smoldering fires.

Since it can’t be predicted what type of fire will start in a home, it is important that both smoldering flaming fires are detected as quickly as possible. Therefore, it is vital that the correct type (technology) of smoke alarm and their placement (location) within the home be utilized correctly. Additionally, you can leverage the strengths of each technology by considering the location and environment they are placed in.

For example, some studies have shown that ionization smoke alarms may be more prone to nuisance alarms, such as those that occur due to cooking. Consumers may reduce that potential by placing ionization smoke alarms at least 20 feet from appliances, or by installing a photoelectric alarm near a cooking area. Most smoking-material fires, which tend to smolder, begin in a den, family room, living room or bedroom. Families with members who smoke may consider installing photoelectric alarms or dual-sensor alarms in those areas.

The most important thing is to ensure that you have working smoke alarms on every floor of your home, inside each bedroom and outside sleeping areas.

  • Topics:
    • Featured Smart Alarm Choices
  • Resource Type:
    • Public education material
  • Organizational Author:
    • External
    • Fire Life Safety Section
    • IAFC

News

Jan 01, 0001

CNIC Announces Fire and Emergency Services Award Winners

The Navy F&ES Awards Program was instituted in 1997 to recognize the most outstanding fire departments and personnel for achieving the highest degree of excellence in mission support and fire protection management.

Jan 01, 0001

Trend Towards 10-Year Technology

Suggestions for replacing alarms.

Jan 01, 0001

Do Not Be Left Under Protected

If your home was built before 1993, here are optimum locations of smoke alarms.

Jan 01, 0001

Don't Fall Victim to Carbon Monoxide, the "Invisible Killer"

Carbon monoxide, also known as CO, is called the "Invisible Killer" because it's a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. More than 150 people in the Unites States die every year from accidental non-fire related CO poisoning associated with consumer products, including generators.

Jan 01, 0001

DHS Releases New “Cyber Essentials” Resources to Promote Cybersecurity

The IAFC recommends that fire chiefs review the actions described in the Cyber Essentials to protect your fire department from cyber-attacks.

Jan 01, 0001

What You Need to Know About the New Smoke Alarms

It's critical to have working smoke alarms installed on every floor of your home, including inside and outside every sleeping area.

Jan 01, 0001

6 Ways to Reduce Cancer in the Fire Service

The key to being cancer-free is knowledge and the discipline apply that knowledge daily.

Jan 01, 0001

Firefighter Safety Culture Starts Behind the Wheel

A comprehensive emergency vehicle driver program demonstrates your organization’s culture of safety for your firefighters, as well as the general public, that encounters our emergency vehicles on the street.

Jan 01, 0001

Firefighters' Top 8 Characteristics of Effective Leaders

Firefighters weigh in on what makes a leader worthy of respect and loyalty.

Jan 01, 0001

Seven Ways to Make Community Risk Reduction a Focus of Your Department

An ever-present concern for any fire chief is our role in reducing the impact incidents have on our community.

Jan 01, 0001

Fire Sprinklers Save Lives; Pass It On

Home Fire Sprinkler Week is May 19-25, a great opportunity for you to raise awareness in your community about this life-saving technology and break down the myths and legislative barriers to its use.

Jan 01, 0001

Are You Using Your Equity Goggles?

At a public-education event, a young Asian boy said to me, “Wow, I didn’t know you could be a firefighter; could I be a firefighter too?” I'll never forget his words; this was the first time he had seen a firefighter who looked like him.

Jan 01, 0001

Fire and Life Safety: Experiencing Home Fires – Still a Real Problem

School visits, department open houses and old messages don’t resonate with average community members. Public apathy is still a real problem. Are we missing the mark on public education?

Jan 01, 0001

Community Risk Reduction: The Magic Pill?

In CRR, we make changes to reduce the risk we find among our organizations, business community and citizens. We have many ways to do this, but what we’re looking for is a change of heart and direction, not just a magic pill.

Jan 01, 0001

Making Community Risk Reduction Relevant

The IAFC’s new CRR Leadership Conference will educate and train chief officers and other fire service managers seeking to create, execute and evaluate measurably successful CRR platforms and programs.

Jan 01, 0001

Teaching and Technology: A Recipe for Safe Cooking

We know that cooking is the #1 cause of home fires and fire injuries in America, with $1 billion lost annually in property damage. An interest in technology that limits the high-end temperature of electric-coil elements is growing as a result.

Jan 01, 0001

Fire Sprinkler Incentives for Developers: A Win-Win

In a national survey of homebuilders and developers, 55% said they would be interested in building homes with fire sprinklers if they were offered incentives. However, only 6% had ever been offered them.

Jan 01, 0001

Fire Prevention Week: A Good Time to Reflect

This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme is "Look, Listen, Learn: Be Aware, Fire Can Happen Anywhere."

Jan 01, 0001

Executive Officer Leadership: “Fire Prevention” Is Outdated!

Am I suggesting the fire service do away with fire-prevention activities? Absolutely not! But are you doing a disservice to your responsibility to protect your community by using the label “fire prevention?”

Jan 01, 0001

Fire and Life Safety: Why Pursue Our Professional Credentials?

What’s the common denominator between obtaining coaching credentials and working for our fire service professional credentials? What value do these provide?

Jan 01, 0001

Kidde Recalls Dual Sensor Smoke Alarms

Recall involves models PI2010 and PI9010 of Kidde dual sensor.

Jan 01, 0001

Bringing the Fire Prevention Message Home

For the first time, the IAFC suggests that local community risk reduction campaigns promote the use of smoke alarms powered by 10-year batteries.

Jan 01, 0001

President’s Letter: Make Community Interaction Count

On the heels of Fire Prevention Week, it’s easy to appreciate the interaction and trust we have within our communities; the week is a magnificent example of harnessing tragedy to make positive change.

Jan 01, 0001

Using Data to Predict Fire, Technology to Detect Them

Listen to Jon Jay, doctoral student, talk about how to use data to predict where house fires are more likely to occur in a city, and to Nathan Armentrout, inventor of a device installed in vacant homes to detect smoke alarms.

Jan 01, 0001

A More Focused Approach for Installing Smoke Alarms in Homes

Listen to Chief McConnell and Director Wise explain how they went from installing 800 smoke alarms to 18,000 using data.

Jan 01, 0001

IAFC Expresses Condolences for Victims of Baltimore Fire

The IAFC expresses its deep condolences to the family and friends of six young children who reportedly perished during a residential house fire Thursday in Baltimore, Md. We commend the first responders who responded to the tragic scene.

Jan 01, 0001

A Simple Act on November 6 Can Buy Life-Saving Minutes Later

ST. LOUIS — Three minutes. That’s how much time families have on average to get out of their homes after an alarm from a smoke detector.* However, those life-saving minutes only occur when detectors are fully powered and operational. Fortunately, three ...

Jan 01, 0001

National Organizations Support Fire Sprinkler Legislation

On January 26, the world watched a great tragedy unfold as 235 people were killed in a nightclub fire in ...

Jan 01, 0001

IAFC and Kidde Partner for Home Fire Safety

Recognizing the need for improved education and awareness about home fire safety, the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), with ...

Videos/Podcasts

 

Did you know?

  • 75% of all fatal fires occur in a residence.
  • Approximately 2,980 people die in the United States each year as the result of a fire in their home. 
  • Fire fatalities occur in the 40%% of homes that have no alarms, or 17% no working smoke alarms.

Source: (NFPA)

Contact

Derek Bullington
Program Coordinator
International Association of Fire Chiefs
(703) 537-4831
dbullington@iafc.org

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