Smoke Alarms are There for Your Safety
By Douglas Krantz
Smoke alarms are there for safety; disconnecting one so it won't make noise when it shouldn't will also prevent it from making noise when a person's life is on the line.
Smoke alarms don't detect fire; smoke alarms detect smoke. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
, most fire deaths are not caused by burns from flame, most fire deaths are caused by breathing smoke.
Because they detect smoke while the smoke is just starting to build up in a room, the smoke alarms give people an early warning of dangerous smoke, often before the person even realizes there is smoke.
The early warning, though, isn't very early. The NFPA
goes on to say in the same article that from the time a person first hears the smoke alarm until they can safely escape a fire in the average house is about two minutes. That really is not much time.
Remember that smoke alarms are part of the protection plan for people's safety, but they are only part of the protection plan. The other part is that people, hearing the smoke alarm sound off, take immediate action for their own protection. If the smoke alarms are disconnected or disabled, the early warning that anyone could have received is lost, and that two minutes of early warning may have been the only warning.
When a smoke alarm keeps sounding off when it's not supposed to, rather than disable it, find out why. Change it, use a different type of smoke alarm, change the way you're doing things, or contact someone who can help. Pulling the battery or removing the smoke alarm from the ceiling removes the early warning part of the protection and puts a person at greater risk of breathing dangerous smoke.
Based on his electronics training, and his understanding of Life Safety, Douglas Krantz has compiled his knowledge of Conventional Fire Alarm Systems into the book Make It Work - Conventional Fire Alarms
. The book covers the basics of the Conventional Fire Alarm System, and shows how Life Safety and internal supervision affects the fire alarm system.
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