Fire Prevention Month

October is Fire Prevention Month, making it a great time to prepare your home for the long winter ahead with some simple precautions.

  1. Assure there are smoke detectors on every level of the home, especially outside sleeping areas. Use of photo as well as ionization devices for specific locations help prevent batteries being removed due to nuisance alarms.
  2. Carbon Monoxide detectors and proper placement to reduce false alarm responses.
  3. Improperly discarded smoking materials-flower boxes in winter
  4. BBQ’s. and turkey deep fat fryers during the up coming holidays.
  5. Annual fall fireplace and chimney fire prevention. Inspect and clean annually
  6. Auxiliary heaters in winter and combustible materials placed too close.

Smoke detectors are identified by their operating principle. Two of the operating principles are:

  • ionization
  • photoelectric

As a class, smoke detectors using the ionization principle provide somewhat faster response to high energy (open-flaming) fires, since these fires produce a large number of the smaller smoke particles. As a class, smoke detectors operating on the photoelectric principle respond faster to the smoke generated by low-energy (smoldering) fires, as these fires generally produce more of the larger smoke particles. No one type of detector is better than the other. Having both types in the home and proper placement can make them more effective. Use Photoelectric type detectors where false alarms from cooking or when opening a woodstove to place more wood inside occurs. They will give fewer false alarms used in those areas. There are also detectors available that have both type of sensor combined into one unit and that have buttons that allow the user to silence the alarms but automatically reset. The objective is to have working smoke detectors on all levels of your home. Especially outside of sleeping areas where they will be heard.

Within the fire protection and prevention industry, it is recognized that neither sensor type, photoelectric nor ionization, is universally better at detecting all types of fires. Why?

Each sensor operates on a different principle and therefore may respond differently to various conditions.

Ionization sensors may respond slightly faster to flaming fires, whereas photoelectric sensors may respond slightly faster to smoldering fires.

Notwithstanding these differences, to achieve ULC listing, both alarms must be tested to the same standard and meet the same requirements. Since you can’t predict the type of fire that will occur, installing both types of alarms in your home can enhance fire safety. Nuisance alarms in homes from typical cooking activities are affected by the properties of the aerosol produced and its concentration, the location of an alarm relative to the source, and the airflow that transports smoke to an alarm. You need to know that there are a variety of options available.

The bottom line: It is not possible to say one sensor type is better that the other for reducing nuisance alarms in kitchen installations. Installing a photoelectric smoke alarm instead of an ionization smoke alarm may be one approach to reducing nuisance alarms. Other approaches might be to relocate the existing alarm a short distance away, replace the unit with a new one, or replace it with a unit that has a hush feature.