Smoke Alarms

  morddwyd 07:58 06 Sep 2013

Had a visit from the fire safety officer a few months ago and he fitted a couple of new smoke alarms as the ones we had were two years old (though still working).

However, I notice, while burning the toast and bacon, that the new ones are much less sensitive than the old ones, and last week there was actually a visible haze before they triggered.

Now I can understand the thinking behind this, less sensitive, less false positives and less people getting frustrated and removing the batteries, but I'm not sure I'm happy.

With a disabled wife I want as much time as possible to get the wet towels in place and get the bed nearer to the window.

Any opinions? Are two year old smoke alarms, which I am thinking of refitting, intrinsically less safe than newer, but more insensitive ones?

  BT 08:17 06 Sep 2013

I replaced a smoke alarm earlier this year. It was in the house when we moved in 8 years ago and was very sensitive. It would go off at the meerest hint of my toast starting to burn. As it was getting on and as I wanted to put some extra units in I replaced it with a new one. I also have noticed that I get fewer alarms with the new ones although they do work but seem to need a little more smoke/fumes before they operate.

I also replaced my CO alarm last year as the old one started indicating that it was at the end of its life. CO alarms only have a 5 year life and will start beeping intermittantly when this time is up. I found one that uses AA batteries rather than PP9 and these seem to last just as long and as I usually have some available rather than have to go buy a PP9 its far more convenient.

  Chronos the 2nd 08:46 06 Sep 2013

We have a smoke alarm that is hard wired into the mains and can be adjusted. Which I find far better than the previous battery powered ones that used to go off if someone lit a fog on the TV. And yes foolishly, as then we were both smokers and heavy drinkers, removed the batteries from the detectors.

I think the technology of the earlier ones meant that they were more sensitive but like everything else great improvements have been made and they are less likely to go dff because of a bit of burnt toast.

  spuds 10:11 06 Sep 2013

From the old days of the Black & Decker type smoke alarms to present day devices, there have been some possible technical improvements, and you only need to look at something like a Toolstation or Screwfix catalogue to realise this, and what's on offer.

One thing that I noticed with the two smoke alarms fitted by the local fire service about 5 years ago, was the instruction notice stating that the devices were guaranteed for 10 years (at least battery life) and were sealed with 'non-serviceable' printed. I had a problem with one unit, and found that the 'non-serviceable' battery can be replaced, once the plastic seal pin have been removed.

I have a combination of both old and new type smoke alarms, sometimes another 'old type' in close proximity to a further 'new type' unit. Being slightly hard of hearing, prefer a belt, braces and if it ain't broke job, just in case. On sensitivity, I haven't noticed all that difference, because all our alarms seem to react at certain times. Open a few doors and windows, and the problems soon resolved. At least silencing the alarms keeps the dogs happy, they simply hate the things going off.

  Flak999 11:21 06 Sep 2013

The old ionisation chamber type were far to sensitive to be near a kitchen, hence all the false alarms. The new type are what is called "optical smoke" they actually have to see the fire (or smoke) before they actuate.

  morddwyd 19:52 06 Sep 2013

All very interesting, but are the old ones, which are more sensitive because of their different technology, more likely to fail than the new ones which actually have to "see" smoke before they trigger?

These alarms are an integral part of our fire plan and I was really looking for some opinions on sensitivity as opposed to new technology.

  Quiller. 20:12 06 Sep 2013

With some ones life at risk I would fit a combination of the 2. Belt and braces mentality. If you have a gas fire, boiler or cooker or oil central heating boiler have you got a co2 alarm?

  BT 23:47 06 Sep 2013

BSOD ..have you got a co2 alarm?

I assume you meant CO (Carbon Monoxide) alarm. CO2 is Carbon Dioxide and I'm not sure I have seen consumer type alarms for this.

  rdave13 00:11 07 Sep 2013

Cheapest CO2 monitor I could find, Amazon.

They must be expensive as I can't imagine a lot of people would fork out for this monitor compared to CO and smoke.

  bumpkin 00:34 07 Sep 2013

It is CO (Carbon Monoxide) that is the killer. Co2 is everywhere it is what we breathe out.

  morddwyd 07:29 07 Sep 2013

Yes I have a CO alarm, but thanks for the heads up.

Just for interest, about a year ago I took it into the garage to test it. I ran the car for about 15 minutes without triggering it, but my motor bike, a 1984 BMW exhausting straight to atmosphere, set it off in about a minute, a tribute to modern Cats I think.

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