Smoke Alarms: Lifesaving, early warning devices

Smoke alarms provide a critical early warning of fire, allowing additional time to escape. National estimates of reported fires show that in 2009-2013, fires in homes with no smoke alarms caused an average of 940 deaths per year (38% of home fire deaths). An additional 510 people per year (21% of home fire deaths) were fatally injured in fires in which smoke alarms were present but failed to operate. Power source problems were the leading cause of smoke alarm failures.

Almost all households indicate having smoke alarms, yet smoke alarms were present in slightly less than three-quarters (73%) of reported home fires and operated in roughly half (53%). When present in reported fires large enough to activate them, they operated 87% of the time. Hardwired smoke alarms were more likely to operate than those powered solely by batteries.

  • Three out of five home fire deaths resulted from fires in properties with no or non-working smoke alarms.
  • The risk of dying in reported home structure fires is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms.
  • Hardwired smoke alarms were more likely to have operated than battery-powered alarms.

Types of smoke alarms available

The two most commonly recognized smoke detection technologies are ionization smoke detection and photoelectric smoke detection.

Ionization smoke alarms are generally more responsive to flaming, fast moving fires.

Photoelectric smoke alarms are generally more responsive to smoldering, smoky fires.

For best protection, it is recommended both (ionization and photoelectric) technologies be used in homes. In addition to individual ionization and photoelectric alarms, combination alarms that include both technologies in a single device are available.

Granite Falls Fire is able to offer free smoke alarms to residents in need who cannot afford to purchase them. Contact 360-691-5553 to schedule an appointment.

For more information on smoke alarms, Click Here.