Many home fires deaths occur when residents are trying to get to exits. Toxic smoke and heat between them and an exit can cause people to become disoriented, even in buildings in which they are familiar. As a member of the fire service, you should be familiar with the products and technologies available to consumers for residential use, including emergency escape masks, self-illuminated signs and smart escape systems.
There are a variety of fire/emergency escape devices, commonly called “smoke hoods” or “smoke masks,” marketed to assist civilians in safe egress from fire emergencies. They provide head, eye and respiratory protection from particulate matter, eye irritants, carbon monoxide and other toxic gases commonly produced by structural fires.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) evaluated respiratory protective escape device (RPED) performance to determine if RPEDs have the potential to reduce fire-related residential deaths and injuries.
Self-powered lighting is a generic term that describes devices that emit light continuously without an external power source. The signs do not require electricity or batteries, and are most commonly installed where it is difficult to get electric power to the location where an exit sign is needed.
Learn about reviewing plans for self-illuminated lighting features and inspecting facilities that use or plan to use them in this informational bulletin PDF 769 KB.
Supported by the Naval Research Laboratory, the USFA partnered with the CPSC to investigate technologies that use visual signals and sounds to improve residential occupant escape in the event of fire. The project considered the feasibility of using new technologies that may improve egress times in residential homes by implementing and demonstrating an automated egress control system. Review the summary report on smart escape systems PDF 1.2 MB
USFA creates, reviews and collects resources that can be used in public outreach activities to help keep communities safe from fire. Explore these free home fire escape planning outreach materials.