USFA, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory Release Report on Home Smoke Alarm Technology

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USFA Press Office: (301) 447-1853

EMMITSBURG, MD – The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), in partnership with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, released a report today: Home Smoke Alarms — A Technology Roadmap. This report details the findings of the first phase of a collaborative research project looking into technologies that could be used in home smoke alarms that provide earlier warning and fewer nuisance alarms.

This focus of this work centers on three distinct elements to improve smoke alarm performance: different types of sensors that may be used in home smoke alarms; development of new signal processing techniques; and a review of improved technologies.

"Smoke alarms are a vital part of home fire safety. Fires in homes today grow faster, burn hotter, and release more smoke than at any time in recent history. Smoke alarms that provide an earlier and more reliable warning are more important than ever," said U.S. Fire Administrator Ernest Mitchell.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), one-third of home fire deaths occur in homes without smoke alarms and 24% of fire deaths occur in homes where a smoke alarm was present but did not operate. CPSC estimates there was an average of 386,300 unintentional residential fires attended by the fire service resulting in nearly 2,400 deaths per year between 2006 and 2008.

"Our goal is to reduce fire deaths," said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. "Better science will result in better smoke alarms. This will save lives.

"Oak Ridge National Laboratory is proud to work with USFA and CPSC on this much needed research initiative," said Richard Stouder, Director of Technology Development and Deployment at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Further information on USFA's fire detection, suppression, and notification research initiatives may be found on the USFA website.