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Ionization Smoke Detectors - Tenability Concerns

Ionization Smoke Detectors - Tenability Concerns

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Letter from Richard M Patton, Fire Protection Engineer, Sacramento, sent to the CPSC, FEMA, NIST and the NFPA discussing tenability issues with ionization smoke detectors.
Letter from Richard M Patton, Fire Protection Engineer, Sacramento, sent to the CPSC, FEMA, NIST and the NFPA discussing tenability issues with ionization smoke detectors.

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Categories:Types, Research, Law
Published by: The World Fire Safety Foundation on May 25, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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11/17/2010

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ru$$b
e
September
9,1997
Ms.
Ann
Brown,
ChairmanConsumer
Product
Safety
CommissionEast West
Towers4340East
West
Highway
Bethesda,
MD
20814
Subject:Smoke
As
An
Untenable
Condition
Dear
Ms.Brown:
When
a
fire
initiates
andremainsa
smoldering type
fire
for
a
substantial
periodoftime
(let's
say
atleastYzhour),
smoke
will
nearly
always be
the
firstlife
threatening
conditionthat
develops
in
a
home.
That is,
a serious
level
of
smoke
(obscuration)
will
likely
occur
priorto
thedevelopment
of
deadlylevels
of toxic
gases
(including
carbon monoxide)
or
heat.
Theproblem
is
notthat the
smoke
itself
will
kill,
but
rather that thepotential
victim
may
find
it
impossible
(ortoo frightening)
to
traverse through
the
smoke
to
reach
the
exit
andsafety.
Having
been
trappedby the smoke,
soon
thereafter the
toxic
gases,
a
reduction
inorygen or
heat
(individuallyorin
combination),may
causeserious
injury
or
death.
Death could
occur
quite
rapidly
if
a
smoldering
fire
converts
to
a
flaming
fire
afterthe
smoke
has
reached
a
levelthat
would
prevent
those
trapped
from
reaching
an
exit door to
the
outside.
It
makes
sense,
therefore,
that
a
warningof
the
existence
of
the
fire
should
occur
prior
tothe
smoke reaching
a
level
that would
prevent
an
orderly
escape,
or the
promptcontrol
of
the
fire.
In
many instances
a
parent
will
find
it
necessary
to"round
up"
small
children,
and
escape,
prior
to
the
smoke
reaching
an
untenable
level.
Therefore,there
should
be
safety
factors
inthe time
allowed
after thealarm
sounds,
until
the
smoke reaches
a
level that
will
trap
the
occupants.
Accordingly,
the
questions
I
raise
are
these:
1.
What
is
the level
of
smokeobscuration
(in
terms
of
percent
lightreduction
per
foot),
that
yourorguization
has
established
as
the
maximum
smoke level
to
be
tolerated,
which
will
stillallow
an
orderly
escape
from
a
home
or
otherbuilding?
,! t-l-,1!-'-ry
G
g*
vr+xt3{sr
e
ru
e*e&
fr
351rtr".
@rrr
6ont:
ilebure
;firr
Dcntbd
Itrr
tltr
@1.$,.
lfry
gQo/o
FILE
COPY.
ORIGINAL
DATEJULY
1,1997
F.@.
Bo*
196.
$itnls
H'isht".
WLg5fr17-fi19fro
(915)
7NZW.
frAX
(915)
7&17fi4
 
2.
Based
on the
availableresearch and
fire
tests,
have
you
developed
a
"probabletime
frame"
for
upholstered
furniture
and/or bedding
to
producethis
i'untenable;condiiion,
due
to
a
smoldering-typefire?
I
am enclosing
an
article that
deals
with
this
issue,
which
may
provide
some
furtherinsightinto
the
information
I
seek.
Yours
Truly,
'i
/-I/'l
Richard
M.
Patton
Registered Fire
Protection
EngineerPresident,
Crusade
AgainstFire Deaths,
Inc.
RMP/Itr
 
Federal
Emergency
Management
Agency
United
States
Fire
Administration
Emmit.sburg,
Maryland
21727
'llts
2
I
lss7
Mr.
Richard
M.
PattonRegistered
FireProtection
Engineer
Crusade
AgainstFire
Deaths,
fnc-
P.O.
Box
196
Citrus Heights,
California
9561
1-0196
Dear
Mr.
Patton:
Thankyou
foryour
letter
of July
i
in
whichyou
asked
questions
concerning
smokeobscuration
and
occupant
tenability.
It
is
not the role
of
the
United
States
Fire
Administrationto
set standards
or
guidance
for
these
conditions,
however,guidance
on
occupantsafety
has been
developed
bythe
National Fire Protection Association[NFPA).
The
NFPA
Committeeon
Safety
to
Life
is
responsible
for NFPA
101,
Life
SafetyCode
and
related
codes. Ron
Cote,
NFPA
Secretary
to
the
NFPA
Committee
on
Life
Safetymaybe contacted
at
I
Batterymarch
Paric,
P.O.
Box
9101,Quincy,
Massachusetts,02269-
9101.
Another
possiblesource
of information
is
the
NFPA
Toxicity
Technical
AdvisoryCommittee.
Mr.
Coteis
Secretary
to
this committee
too.
The
Chairof this
committee
is
Jack
E.
Snell,
Deputy Director
Building
and
Fire
Research
Laboratory, NationalInstitute
of
Standards
and
Technology, Gaithersburg
Marylan
d
20899.
Thank you
for
your
interest
in
fire
safety, and
if
you
have
additional
questions,
please
contact me
at
the
above
address.
v
Sincerely,
/'
.1
l-C-lzt'V'z-
Carrye
B. Brown
U.S.
Fire
Administrator

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