How safe are your smoke detectors?
A number of fire safety experts are questioning whether popular models of smoke detectors meet the threat of fast-burning synthetic materials now common in many facilities. There are two common types of smoke alarms:
Either alarm is usually acceptable to meet National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and state fire safety standards. Experts say both save lives, but the time needed to escape once flames start has gotten dangerously short because of fast-burning synthetic materials in furniture and carpets. Synthetics like nylon and polyester tend to smolder for a long time, melting and pooling, then give off substantially more energy than natural products like cotton or wool when they ignite.
The time from first flames to combustion of the entire room has dropped from an average of 12 to 14 minutes 30 years ago to about two to four minutes today. Current UL smoke alarm standards, first developed in the 1970s, require alarms to respond within four minutes of a flaming fire and in a smoldering fire before smoke obscures visibility by more than 10 percent. Bottom line is that your staff and students may have little if any time to respond or evacuate.
Here are several responses that your facility may want to employ:
The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as all encompassing, or suitable for all situations, conditions, and environments. Please contact us or your attorney if you have any questions.