Performance of Home Smoke Alarms

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Analysis of the Response of Several Available Technologies in Residential Fire Settings

In cooperation with USFA, other sponsors, and U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) conducted an evaluation of current and emerging smoke alarm technology responses to common residential fire scenarios and nuisance alarm sources. The results of this project provide details of the response of a range of residential smoke alarm technologies in a controlled laboratory test and in a series of real-scale tests conducted in two different residential structures.

Smoke alarms of either the ionization type or the photoelectric type consistently provided time for occupants to escape from most residential fires, although in some cases the escape time provided can be short. Consistent with prior findings, ionization type alarms provided somewhat better response to flaming fires than photoelectric alarms, and photoelectric alarms provide (often) considerably faster response to smoldering fires than ionization type alarms.

Further information and the final report can be found on the NIST website.