As the days shorten and winter slowly applies its grip, we spend more time at home. And when we do this, opportunities for a house fire increase dramatically. Sources may be a kitchen stove, a space heater, a careless smoker, faulty wiring and often, wood burning stoves and fireplaces. Businesses must also keep vigilant against the risk of fire –for many of us, we spend almost as much time at work as we do at home. And let’s not forget public places: schools, auditoriums, gyms, churches and the like. Most municipal fire codes mandate specific smoke detection systems for public places.
Smoke alarms are the first line of defense in detecting fire in a home or business. According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire deaths have been cut in half since the introduction of smoke alarms in the late 1970’s. Consider these related facts:
- Two-thirds of reported residential fire deaths occurred in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
- Fire deaths in homes with working smoke alarms are 51 percent less than the death rate for homes without alarms.
- An estimated 20 percent of U.S. homes do not have working smoke alarms, primarily because of missing or dead batteries.
There are two types of smoke detectors. One is ionization and the other is photoelectric. Both are effective means of sensing smoke in residential environments.
The photoelectric type alarms are generally most effective at detecting slow, smoldering fires which smolder for hours before bursting into flame. Sources of these fires may include cigarettes burning in couches or bedding.
The ionization type alarms are generally most effective at detecting fast, flaming fires which consume combustible materials rapidly and spread quickly. Sources of these fires may include paper burning in a waste container or a grease fire in the kitchen. The National Fire Protection Agency recommends having both types of smoke alarms in your home.
For most homeowners, a hard wired detector on each level with a battery back-up is sufficient. If you have a home security system, detectors can send an alarm directly to the local fire department. R&T Electric recommends that you test alarms no less than annually; preferably every six months.
R&T offers these suggestions on where alarms should be installed:
Generally alarms should be installed in hallways as close to the bedrooms as possible, so people sleeping on the other side of closed doors can hear it. All alarms should be installed in conjunction with the manufacturers’ instructions. There are also guidelines on where not to install them, such as kitchens.
Carbon monoxide and low temperature alarms are also available. And while R&T services some of the largest commercial properties in New Hampshire, it has never forgotten its roots as a residential electrical service provider.
R&T has been in the electrical services business since early 1972. That’s 47 years! Large or small, commercial or residential, R&T Electric has the tools and the people to do the job right – and we’re a company you can count on in an emergency.