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Photoelectric vs. Ionization Smoke Alarms


Collection of Residential Smoke Alarm Research

This report was scanned from hardcopy. 

Life Fire Safety Consulting - Boston Deputy Fire Chief Jay Fleming

  • The IAFF Recommends Changing to a Photoelectric Smoke Alarms

  • About 90% of Homes Are Equipped With Ionization Smoke Alarms

  • IAFC 1980:  "It is the subcommittee's belief that only the photoelectric detector will meet the requirements reliably when subjected to both open flame and smoldering fires."

  • BRK/First Alert Letter, 2008: "Clearly there is a growing consensus within state legislatures as well as the fire service community that favors photoelectric technology."

  • Vermont Legislation, 2008:  "Combination photoelectric/ionization smoke detectors cannot be used as an alternative for these locations because of the false alarms that are more common with ionizations alarms.  People disarms the detectors.  38% of smoke alarms in fatal fires had smoke detectors that had been disabled by the occupant.  These smoke detectors must be photoelectric only."

  • "....Ionization alarms sighted in the hallway generally provide inadequate escape times...." LA Fire Chief's Test, 1980

  • "However, ionization alarms have been shown to sometimes fail to alarm in smoldering fires even when visibility in the room is significantly degraded by smoke.  Most photoelectric detectors alarm substantially sooner in these situations.  In the NIST experiments photoelectric detectors sense smoldering fires on average 30 minutes earlier than the ionization detectors."  LA Fire Chief's Test, 1980

See Page 64 of PDF






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