Fully Involved: Smoke alarms save lives

Special to they Sky-Hi News / Fully Invilved

Are there smoke alarms installed in all of your home’s bedrooms? If the answer is “no,” then your home doesn’t meet the updated requirements for smoke alarm installation. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requires smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside all sleeping areas, and on every level of the home, including the basement.

Some homes in Grand County may still only have a smoke alarm near sleeping areas. We want all residents to understand that national codes require smoke alarms in all bedrooms, not just near them.

Smoke alarms can mean the difference between life and death in a fire. Smoke alarms cut the chance of dying in a fire in half. Meanwhile, roughly two-thirds of all home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

Essentially, there are two different types of smoke alarms: ionization and photoelectric. An ionization alarm is typically more responsive to a flaming fire, such as a pan fire. A photoelectric alarm is typically more responsive to a smoldering fire, as might occur where a lighted cigarette is dropped on a sofa. Combination smoke alarms have ionization and photoelectric capabilities. In accordance with NFPA, your local fire departments recommend installing either combination alarms, or both types of alarms, in bedrooms, as well as throughout the home. Whatever type of smoke alarms you choose, make sure they carry the label of a recognized testing laboratory.

Interconnected smoke alarms offer the best protection; when one sounds, they all do. A licensed electrician can install hard-wired multiple-station alarms, or homeowners can install wireless alarms, which manufacturers have more recently begun producing. This is particularly important in larger or multi-story homes, where the sound from distant smoke alarms may be reduced to the point that it may not be loud enough to provide proper warning, especially for sleeping individuals.

Smoke alarms detect and alert people to fire in its early stages, giving people the time needed to escape safely. That is why it is so important for every home to have them in all required locations, including bedrooms.

The Grand County Firefighters Association offers the following tips for making sure the smoke alarms in your home are maintained and working properly:

• Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home.

• Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button, and make sure everyone in your home knows their sound.

• If an alarm “chirps,” warning the battery is low, replace the battery right away.

• Replace all smoke alarms, including alarms that use 10-year batteries and hard-wired alarms, when they are ten years old; or sooner if they do not respond properly when tested.

Grand County residents with questions and/or concerns about the updated smoke alarm requirements may contact their local Fire Department. They can also visit NFPA’s website at for more information.

David Boyes served as a volunteer firefighter for Grand Fire Protection District No.1 in Granby from 1981 to 1991, and as been the Fire Chief for the past 21 years.

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