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Fire Alarm Safety

08.28.2009 · Posted in Technology Articles

Fire drills in school were designed to ready us for what we’d need to do in case the fire alarms went off. To most of us, fire alarms are loud pulsing noises that are impossible to ignore. Although sometimes annoying, as we became homeowners, we reconsidered the value of being alerted to fire and smoke danger. We understand that smoke detectors, alarm systems and fire extinguishers are necessary equipment in the home.nnThe size of the living space needing protection and how it will be inhabited are key considerations. Obvious trouble spots like kitchens and furnace rooms should get special attention. Detection is certainly important here, but the ability to safely extinguish a fire before it spreads is also critical. Depending upon the risk a hand held fire extinguisher may suffice. Where practical, consider sprinklers or other extinguishing equipment.nnThere are so many good choices around fire alarms these days. One of the decisions you’ll face is to go wireless or stick with a traditional wired system. Sometimes we believe that wired systems are automatically more reliable because we can see the wires. The technology is so advanced today, that good wireless fire alarm systems can be every bit as dependable as the traditional wired ones. If you decide on a wired system, seriously consider having it professionally installed.nnMunicipal building codes have certainly changed in recent years. In some municipalities, the type and quality of the smoke detector you install is as important as where you install them. If you’re selling your home, buyers will hire an inspector who will be equipped to evaluate your fire protection equipment. Most rules and regulations are easy to find online. Or, you can call your local fire department for the right information about fire alarms.nnFire alarms by definition alert inhabitants of a structure that flames are imminent so that they can exit in time to save their lives. So the effectiveness of the first stage of the system, smoke detection, is crucial. When smoke detectors are overly sensitive, the tendency is to get lax about changing batteries and testing equipment. Remaining vigilant about testing and replacing smoke detector should be a top priority.nnMonthly smoke detector testing only takes a few minutes. First, press the battery test button on each detector. Change the battery if it fails the test. Once you have a good battery installed, check whether the fire alarm activates properly by holding a lighted candle under the detector, about six inches away. If the alarm doesn’t sound, blow the candle out and see if the smoke itself activates the alarm. If not, replace it.nnYour awareness of fire safety shouldn’t end in your home. Wherever you work and wherever you vacation, notice the fire safety mechanisms in place. Where are the fire alarm pulls, exits and fire extinguishers? Do you know which way to turn out your office or hotel room door if you find the hallways smoke-filled? Being aware of fire and smoke danger no matter where you are is your best defense.

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