As per the numbers from NFPA ( national fire protection association ), approximately, 2/3rds of deaths caused by a fire in U.S household are the result of either absence of smoke alarms or alarms that have old or no batteries. Regardless if it’s a business or home, the maintenance, and selection of smoke detecting system is crucial in order to save or minimize fire damage.
It’s is recommended to place smoke alarms on each level of your home and most importantly sleeping areas. If you close your bedroom while sleeping, your alarm should be inside your bedroom. Your gear should be ideally on the ceiling since smoke tends to rise. It’s crucial to check and follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions to ensure you are safe. You should also verify all compliance and codes from the local authority. This can include fire marshal, the insurance bureau, or building inspector.
Recommended : Best Smoke Detectors to Purchase of Home/Office
When we talk about the types of fire alarm systems, the two basic broad categories are smoke and heat detectors. You can learn the difference in these by matching the product to its application.
These are in use from a very long time. They work on a pretty simple principle, they have a detecting element inside the unit which activates once it reaches a predetermined temperature i.e when it realizes a temperature change has occurred which wasn’t supposed to. These are best suited for places where which you are highly concerned about or places where a smoke detector won’t be possible. They are also suggested for tiny spaces where rapid burning or high heat fires are expected.
A good thing about heat detectors is they have a low false alarm rate. But on the other hand, they are also slow in reporting actual fires. A lot of studies have been done that show that heat based detectors are not very effective as compared to smoke detectors in alerting about fires in residential homes.
The next up is smoke alarms, which detect fire faster than heat detectors. In smoke based detectors, there are 3 types further: photoelectric, ionization, or combination of both.
Ionization: This contains a small amount of radioactive material. This means a small radiation passes through a chamber which is filled with air and has two electrodes that permit a very small amount of current between these electrodes. Any smoke that enters the chamber quickly absorbs the alpha particles, further reducing the ionization process and interrupting the current that sets off the alarm. This works best with fast fires.
Photoelectric: These work by using a light source. A light beam collimating system along with a photoelectric sensor. Once the smoke enters the chamber, it interrupts the path of the light beam, as some light is scattered due to smoke particles, these get directed to the sensor and activate the alarm. It is ideal for slow fires.
Combination: As clear from the name, this uses both the techniques. The ionization responds faster to high in energy fires, while photoelectric respond better to slow ones. The NFPA recommends this one for best protection.