Yes, more fire safety talk. It seems everywhere I turn lately there is more convincing evidence that most of our current smoke & carbon monoxide detectors are not as safe as we would like to think. I’m talking about Ionization type. A few quick Google searches and a newer type called “Photoelectric” will keep popping up.
Both types can and do alert us, but there are some big differences. Below are some samples of what I have come to learn recently along with some interesting quotes.
Will combination units be the next best thing?!
“A smoke detector that sounds approximately nineteen minutes after smoke reached its sensing chamber is like an airbag that does not deploy until nineteen minutes after a car accident.” - Judge David E. Schoenthaler, Mercer v. Pitway/BRK Brands (First Alert)
Among the objectives of a smoke characterization study conducted by UL in 2007 were to develop recommendations to UL 217 and allow for the development of new smoke-sensing technologies. As a result of UL’s project, the following was identified for future consideration: “Requiring the use of combination ionization and photoelectric alarms for residential use in order to maximize responsiveness to a broad range of fires.”
The reason for this recommendation was that “Some of the evaluated flaming and non-flaming test scenarios triggered one but not both photo and ion alarms within the alarm response time criteria specified in UL 217.”
Ionization alarms are notorious for nuisance tripping. They frequently go off when you cook, burn toast, shower, etc. When alarms nuisance trip, people become frustrated and intentionally disable them. Most of us, including myself have removed a battery or pulled a unit off the wall intending to “fix it tomorrow”
In summary…I am heading to my local Big Box store to look at some combination units, I think you should do the same