Douglas Krantz - Technical Writer - Describing How It Works

If It's There -- Does It Have To Work?

People depend on things working. If a smoke detector, for instance, is a fake, people think that they're protected. Then, if a fire occurs, there's more damage, and possibly even injury to people that thought they were protected.

One way of hiding a CCTV camera to keep an eye on an area is to place it inside of a smoke detector.
Placing a false smoke detector in an area to hide a camera does keep the camera hidden. But there are problems with this practice.

By Douglas Krantz

Life Safety

Whether its smoke detectors on the ceiling or the firefighter's telephone system, people think that if it's there, it's real and it works. Sometimes, people even stake their lives on that device or system.

Examples of devices or systems that are there but not working are cameras disguised as smoke detectors and firefighter telephone systems that are no longer maintained.

False Smoke Detectors --- Deliberately Installed

The difference in how people act when they see a smoke detector, for instance, versus how they act when a smoke detector isn't there may be slight, but if there isn't a smoke detector, there are a few people that will change their behavior knowing they have to be a little more careful with fire.

Fire marshals, if they see a smoke detector on the ceiling think the area is protected. When the fire marshal can assume that the area is protected by what looks like a smoke detector, the fire marshal won't ask for another smoke detector.

If a smoke detector doesn't work because of a malfunction, or worse, if it's a fake smoke detector put there to contain a hidden camera, people who are depending it won't get the help they need in an emergency.

For people' life's sake, any smoke detector on the ceiling has to function and be real ---- and, in an emergency, it has to detect smoke.


Here, a smoke detector is referred to as "protecting an area".

True, a smoke detector by itself protects nothing. However, as part of "Protected Premises Fire Alarm Systems" (NFPA 72), it is part of the system that protects the premises. To go one step further, removal of the smoke detector reduces the protection because removing the smoke detector increases response time for the protective services.

Even though a stand-alone smoke detector itself does not protect, as part of a complete fire alarm system, it is part of the protective services to the building and is being used to help "protect the area".

Firefighters Telephone Systems --- No Longer Maintained

Yes, the fire department uses its radios for communication. No, most of the time the fire department usually won't use the firefighter's telephone system. But when the radios can't reach into the basement or inner parts of a building very well, if the firefighter's telephone system is there, the firefighters will be taking a few more risks to their lives knowing they can communicate.

If a telephone system doesn't work because of a malfunction, or worse, if it's just turned off because no one thinks it's needed anymore, firefighters, staking theirs lives on it, won't get the help they need in an emergency.

For the firefighter's life's sake, if there's a firefighter's telephone system, the firefighter's telephone system has to be maintained --- and it has to work.

If It's There --- It Has To Work

These devices and systems, along with the rest of the fire alarm system, no matter how useless or archaic they may seem, have to be maintained and be in working order. If fire alarm devices and systems are there, lives are depend on these systems or devices working --- and all fire alarm devices have to work as fire alarm devices.
Life Safety
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