What are the mistakes made in smoke detection ordinances, codes, and standards?


What are the mistakes made in smoke detection ordinances, codes, and standards? My take on smoke alarms is that they have saved lives and that they would not be as widespread as they are without ordinances, codes, and standards.

Specifically then what were the mistakes made in smoke detection?

I also wonder what your position is on CO alarms. Will you please be specific. Do you think CO alarms are a good idea? Do you think they should meet some standard? Do you think they should be used, but “the market should drive their use”? Do you think they should be in ordinances or codes?


1. The Mistakes made on Smoke Detectors requires a Very Lengthy answer that I will defer  answering in detail until tonight or tomorrow, when I have more time. I will say briefly that it involved “Mistakes”, in my opinion, that were numerous, and involved errors by CPSC, NFPA, the Ionization Detector Industry; as well as UL, via their yielding to the “Pressures” of the previously mentioned Groups.

Smoke Detectors HAVE SAVED LIVES, mainly due to the Very Improved Fire Prevention Safety Programs “Built Around” the Introduction of them, in MASS, following thepublication of a Gov’t. Report called: “AMERICA BURNING’, on May 04, 1973….. and the Improved Funding that Resulted from the Recommendations in this Report. “America Burning” was almost “Instantly Adopted” by the Fire Services Nationwide. This Report pointed out that LESS than THREE CENTS on the Dollar, of the Fire Dept’s. Budgets, were being spent on Fire Prevention efforts.

Many Fire Safety Measures were a Direct Result of “America Burning”, including the Very Important moves of putting the Mfg. Housing Codes under HUD, the Eliminating of Aluminum Wiring / Connectors in homes, and the Foundation of the National Fire Academy, Revenue “Sharing’, and Many other Very helpful Changes in Fire Safety.

You are Absolutely Correct that the Widespread use of Smoke Detectors would NEVER have gotten to today’s level of use, which NFPA says is now 92% of our Nation’s Homes, if they had NOT been “Required” by Codes.

The PROBLEM is that 40 to 50% are “Non-Functional” on ANY GIVEN DAY. [ The Final Calif. fire Marshal’s report on this problem said that they had found 55% were “Non-Functional”, mainly due to “THE INTENTIONAL” removal of batteries]. … Much more on this Later.

2. My “Position” on C O Alarms:

a. Yes, I Believe C O Alarms are a GREAT Idea.

b. Yes, they should ABSOLUTELY be made to a Quality Performance Standard. A Standard that REQUIRES both “Time of Manufacture”, and “Life-Time” Reliability testing, as does: CSA-6.19-01. It would be EVEN Better, if the Standard MANDATED monitoring the Sensor, instead of just using the “Reliability” Checks to “Hopefully” catch a Sensor Problem. [A process that Could permit Hundreds of Thousands to be in Stores & Homes, BEFORE the Problem is Caught].The Standard should also Require an “End of Life” Kill Switch, causing an “ERR” Warning, … NOT letting it go into a Full False Alarm.

c. Very Clearly, … they MUST be REQUIRED by Codes or “By-Laws” to obtain wider use.

d. In Addition, … I believe that a C O Monitor made to whatever Accepted Requirement is in place for that particular Environment, should also be MANDATORY in EVERY Workplace.

More Later, …………………. George
Part 2

John, it just occurred to me that you may well be of the ONLY one of your ASHRAE C O Committee that has actually purchased a C O – Experts Low-Level Monitor; therefore, the only one that has “Actually Seen” my Owner’s Manual………..  For the others I submit the following:

The VERY FIRST paragraph, Item # 1 says:

This Low-Level Carbon Monoxide Monitor IS NOT a “Standard”, UL-2034, ULC, I.A.S., or CSA Listed CO Alarm, and is NOT intended to REPLACE the Installation of such products. We STRONGLY RECOMMEND the Installation of TWO, or More, CSA-6.19-2001 Listed CARBON MONOXIDE ALARMS.

I Strongly Endorse the USE of CARBON MONOXIDE ALARMS, ….. and ….. SMOKE DETECTORS, ….. I just
WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY WORK PROPERLY, ….. Presently, Because of False Alarms, …… they  CAUSE OVER 80% of our CITIZENS, ….. to TOTALLY IGNORE their WARNINGS  ! ! !




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