Installation Done Right: Habitational Smoke Detectors
Smoke detectors are a key part of a fire protection plan. When there is a fire, smoke spreads fast. Working smoke detectors give you early warning so you can get outside quickly. It’s important to have enough smoke detectors in your residential buildings. Fire research has demonstrated that with today’s modern furnishings, fires can spread much more rapidly than in the past when more natural materials were used. Because of this, having a sufficient number of properly located smoke detectors is essential to maximize the amount of available escape time.
CIBA Insurance Services recognizes the importance of having smoke detectors installed within residential buildings or any building with sleeping areas. Each building authority having jurisdiction will have a requirement for the installation and maintenance of smoke detectors within residential buildings. Check with your local building authority or fire Marshall for additional information about smoke detector requirements. Generally, smoke detectors should be installed as follows:
• Choose smoke detectors that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
• Install smoke detectors inside each sleeping area (any area where sleeping would normally occur), outside each sleeping area (typical adjacent hallways) and on every level of the home, including the basement.
• On levels without sleeping areas, install detectors in the living room (or den or family room) or near the stairway to the upper level, or in both locations.
• Smoke detectors installed in the basement should be installed on the ceiling at the bottom of the stairs leading to the next level.
• Smoke detectors should be installed at least 10 feet (3 meters) from a cooking appliance to minimize false alarms when cooking.
• Mount smoke detectors high on walls or ceilings (since smoke rises). Wall-mounted detectors should be installed not more than 12 inches away from the ceiling (to the top of the alarm) or in accordance with the manufacturers installation instructions.
• If you have ceilings that are pitched, install the detector within 3 feet of the peak but not within the apex of the peak (four inches down from the peak) or in accordance with the manufacturers installation instructions.
• Don't install smoke detectors near windows, doors, or ducts where drafts might interfere with their operation.
• Never paint smoke detectors. Paint, stickers, or other decorations could keep the detectors from working.
• For the best protection, interconnect all smoke detectors. When one smoke detector sounds they all sound. Interconnection can be done using hard-wiring or wireless technology.
• When interconnected smoke detectors are installed, it is important that all of the detectors are from the same manufacturer. If the detectors are not compatible, they may not sound.
• There are two types of smoke detectors – ionization and photoelectric. An ionization smoke detector is generally more responsive to flaming fires, and a photoelectric smoke detector is generally more responsive to smoldering fires. For the best protection, both types of detectors or combination ionization-photoelectric detectors, also known as dual sensor smoke detectors, are recommended.
• Keep manufacturer’s instructions and warranty documentation for reference.
This Bulletin is provided to CIBA Members and their Agents as a service to you. Make sure you consult qualified experts for complete information and assistance.