The smell of smoke will not wake you, but the sound of a working smoke alarm will! Please share these Smoke Alarm Safety videos with your family and friends:

FIRE ALARM SAFETY video in English

FIRE ALARM SAFETY video in English with subtitles

FIRE ALARM SAFETY video in Spanish

FIRE ALARM SAFETY video in Burmese

Thank you to PBS 39 Studios for creating the Fire Alarm Safety videos for the FWFD.  

Why Are Smoke Alarms Important?

Every year in the United States, about 3,000 people lose their lives in residential fires.  In a fire, smoke and deadly gases tend to spread farther and faster than heat. That's one reason why most fire victims die from inhalation of smoke and toxic gases, not as a result of burns. A majority of fatal fires happen when families are asleep because occupants are unaware of the fire until there is not adequate time to escape. A smoke alarm stands guard around the clock and, when it first senses smoke, it sounds a shrill alarm.  This often allows a family the precious but limited time it takes to escape.  About two-thirds of home fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. Properly installed and maintained smoke alarms are considered to be one of the best and least expensive means of providing an early warning of a potentially deadly fire and could reduce the risk of dying from a fire in your home by almost half.

Where Should Smoke Alarms Be Installed?

Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home, outside sleeping areas, and inside bedrooms. For best protection install a smoke alarm in every room of the house.

A smoke alarm should be installed and maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When installing a smoke alarm, many factors influence where you will place it, including how many are to be installed.  Consider placing alarms along your escape path to assist in egress in limited visibility conditions. In general you should place alarms in the center of a ceiling or, if you place them on a wall, they should be 6 to 12 inches below the ceiling.  Replace smoke alarm batteries at least annually, such as when resetting clocks in the fall or spring.  Test all smoke alarms in your house once a month.

Do not place a smoke alarm too close to a kitchen appliance or fireplace, as this may result in nuisance alarms.  Avoid locating alarms near bathrooms, heating appliances, windows, or ceiling fans.  Replace smoke alarms that are more than 10 years old. Smoke alarms don’t last forever.  Develop and practice a fire escape plan, because working smoke alarms and a fire escape plan will increase your protection in case of a fire.

Which Smoke Alarm Type Is Better?

Although there are several choices to make in selecting the right smoke alarms to buy, the most important thing to remember is that smoke alarms save lives. For that reason, you should install a smoke alarm if your home does not have one.

Smoke alarms may contain different or multiple sensors

There are two main types of smoke alarms, which are categorized by the type of smoke detection sensor, ionization and photoelectric, used in the alarm. A smoke alarm uses one or both methods, sometimes with a heat detector, to warn of a fire. Ionization detectors contain a chamber with two plates that generate a small, continuous electric current. When smoke enters the ionization chamber, the smoke particles disrupt the current flow, which triggers the alarm.  Photoelectric detectors use a light beam and light receptor (photocell).  When smoke is present between the light and receptor, depending on the type of smoke chamber configuration, the reduction or increase of light on the photocell sensor triggers the alarm.

Smoke alarms may perform differently

Both ionization and photoelectric detectors are effective smoke sensors. Even though both types of smoke detectors must pass the same tests to be certified to the voluntary standard for smoke alarms, they can perform differently in different types of fires. Ionization detectors respond quickly to flaming fires with smaller combustion particles; photoelectric detectors respond more quickly to smoldering fires. There are combination smoke alarms also that combine ionization and photoelectric detectors into one unit, called dual sensor smoke alarms.

Depending on your home, smoke alarms can be powered in one of several ways: House wiring, house wiring with battery back-up, replaceable batteries,  or sealed long life batteries & the smoke alarms are disposed of after 10 years.

Interconnected smoke alarms may offer quicker escape time and improved audibility.

Hard-wired interconnected smoke alarms can be found in most homes built after 1989. Wireless interconnected smoke alarms are an alternative for older homes using single-station smoke alarms.

Disposal Of Smoke Detectors

Regulatory Factors: Federal regulations do not address the disposal of smoke detectors, heat detectors, flame detectors and/or other types of fire detection systems and/or components.

General Guidance: Recycling is the preferred option for disposal of all fire alarm components. 

Be sure to remove any battery from the smoke detector and dispose of it at a hazardous waste disposal event or facility.

Bottom Line Facts

Roughly two thirds of home fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms!

Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in reported home fires in half!

Install smoke alarms in your house to protect you and your family!!