Smoke Alarms are Enough: Are they?

Blog Post created by ryan.quinn Employee on May 26, 2009


An NFPA report titled U.S Home Structure Fires , by Marty Ahrens, published in January 2009 concludes that 63% of reported fire deaths from 2003-2006 resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarm or no working smoke alarms. Residential fire sprinkler opponents are certain that this proves their case that smoke alarms are enough to eliminate the fire problem in North America. What they won't tell you is that the other 37% of people who died in homes, did so in homes equipped with smoke alarms, both battery operated and hardwired.

Persons dying in these fires were more likely to have been in the area of origin, were trying to fight the fire themselves, or were at least 65 years old. Children under 5 and older adults face the highest risk of home fire death. Alcohol or other drugs, disabilities, and age-related limitations are all factors contributing to risk. Persons in these high risk groups are specially likely to have difficulty espacing a fire. What about these lives? Maybe this question should be posed to the families of the victims. Not one more needless death should be the mantra that drives this policy decision. 


NFPA analyses have concluded that there are tremendous benefits achieved by sprinklers on top of the benefits already achieved by smoke alarms. According to the [U.S. Experience with Sprinklers and Other Automatic Fire Extinguishing Equipment | http://www.nfpa.org/assets/files//PDF/OSsprinklers.pdf] report, by John R. Hall, Jr, +a home fire sprinkler system provides an 80% reduction in the fire death rate, +a considerable reduction in addition to the large reduction provided by smoke alarms.