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Position Statement

Residential Fire Detection & Automated Suppression

Important Notice:
In order to ensure that the position of, and information provided by
the World Fire Safety Foundation is free of commercial bias,
the Foundation does NOT sell fire detection devices or other fire safety equipment.

Definitions for the purposes of this position statement:


• A fire detection device contains a means of detecting smoke or products of
combustion or heat and for sounding an alarm;
• A residential fire detection device is manufactured principally for use in the
home; and
• Residential accommodation means any home, apartment or other place where
people sleep either on a permanent or temporary basis.

We recognize that providing full protection for residential accommodation may not be
immediately financially viable for all building owners or occupiers. Therefore, this
position on residential fire detection and suppression devices provides for both Best
Practice and Minimum Practice standards.

Where a building owner or occupier can not afford to provide Best Practice protection,
they should start with Minimum or better and build up the system so that Best
Practice may be achieved over time, as anything less puts life at risk.

Types of Detection and Suppression Solutions


Warning: The Foundation does NOT recommend ionization smoke alarms or
combination ionization/photoelectric smoke alarms1.

Smoke Alarms
Best Practice & Minimum Practice:
• That all residential accommodation be fitted with photo-electric smoke alarms
or combination photoelectric smoke/heat alarms in the locations specified
herein.

Heat Alarms
Best Practice & Minimum Practice
• That all residential accommodation be fitted with heat alarms and or
combination photoelectric smoke/heat alarms in the locations specified herein.

The World Fire Safety Foundation Residential Fire Detection & Automated Suppression Position Statement
First Published 5 December, 2004. Last Reviewed: 16 August, 2010
© Copyright 2010 The World Fire Safety Foundation
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CO2 Detectors
Best Practice:
• That all residential accommodation be fitted with CO2 Detectors in the locations
specified herein.
Minimum Practice:
• That all residential accommodation that uses gas be fitted with CO2 Detectors in
the locations specified herein.

Sprinkler Systems
Best Practice:
• That all residential accommodation be fitted with a sprinkler system.

Interconnection
Best Practice:
• That all residential fire detection devices within a single dwelling be
interconnected2.

Locations
Best Practice:
• That photoelectric smoke alarms or combination photoelectric smoke/heat
alarms be located in all sleeping areas and living rooms and in all paths of
travel between sleeping areas and living rooms and exits to the open air, and
• That heat alarms or combination photo-electric smoke/heat alarms be fitted
kitchens, in ceiling voids, attics, mechanical rooms, and rooms containing a
fireplace or furnace, and garages with internal access between the house and
garage; and
• That a CO2 alarm be fitted in rooms containing a gas fireplace, oven, cook top
or furnace; and
• That a sprinkler system be fitted throughout the building.
Minimum Practice:
• That photoelectric smoke alarms be located in all sleeping areas and living
rooms and in all paths of travel between sleeping areas and living rooms and
exits to the open air,
• That heat alarms be fitted in kitchens, and
• That a CO2 alarm be fitted in rooms containing a gas fireplace, oven, cook top
or furnace.

Warning: If the owner/occupier installs smoke and or smoke/heat alarms in hallways


only and not in bedrooms, if bedroom doors are closed occupants may not be
alerted to the presence of fire in time to escape, for this reason, the Foundation
regards the installation of smoke alarms in bedrooms to be a minimum requirement.

Power Supply
Best Practice:
• Hard-wired fire detection device with non-removable rechargeable backup
battery equal to that of the fire detection device, so that power is still available
to the fire detection device in the event of failure of the building’s mains power
supply.
Minimum Practice:
• Fire detection device with removable battery.

The World Fire Safety Foundation Residential Fire Detection & Automated Suppression Position Statement
First Published 5 December, 2004. Last Reviewed: 16 August, 2010
© Copyright 2010 The World Fire Safety Foundation
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Sound Levels and Sensory Stimulation
Best Practice:
• That residential fire detection devices that use a voice command warning be
installed in rooms in which children under 16 years of age sleep3.
• That the minimum residential fire detection device sound pressure level at the
bed head in all sleeping areas be a minimum of 75 decibels and
• That residential fire detection devices with sensory stimulation, such as
vibrating pads and strobe lights, be installed in residential accommodation
occupied by the deaf or people who are hard of hearing.
Minimum Practice:
• That the minimum residential fire detection device sound pressure level at the
bed head in all sleeping areas be a minimum of 75 decibels and
• That residential fire detection devices with sensory stimulation, such as
vibrating pads and strobe lights, be installed in residential accommodation
occupied by the deaf or people who are hard of hearing.

Installation
Best Practice:
• That building owners be responsible for installing residential fire detection
devices, whether or not such responsibility is enshrined in legislation in the
jurisdiction in which the residential accommodation is located; and
• That residential fire detection devices be installed with reference to the
manufacturer’s instructions and in accordance with any Building Code or other
regulation applicable in the jurisdiction in which the residential accommodation
is located; and
• That residential fire detection devices hard-wired into a building’s mains power
supply be installed by a licensed electrician or that residential fire devices with
a DC power source be installed by competent persons who are not qualified
electricians, except where such or other qualification may be required by local
regulations and
• That where residential fire detection devices are connected to a security system
that they are installed and maintained in accordance with local standards and
regulations and all the recommendations of this position.
Minimum Practice:
• That residential fire detection devices be installed with reference to the
manufacturer’s instructions and in accordance with any Building Code or other
regulation applicable in the jurisdiction in which the residential accommodation
is located; and
• That residential fire detection devices hard-wired into a building’s mains power
supply be installed by a licensed electrician or that residential fire devices with
a DC power source be installed by competent persons who are not qualified
electricians, except where such or other qualification may be required by local
regulations and
• That where residential fire detection devices are connected to a security system
that they are installed and maintained in accordance with local standards and
regulations and all the recommendations of this position.

The World Fire Safety Foundation Residential Fire Detection & Automated Suppression Position Statement
First Published 5 December, 2004. Last Reviewed: 16 August, 2010
© Copyright 2010 The World Fire Safety Foundation
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Maintenance & Replacement
Best Practice:
• That the responsibility for annual cleaning and battery replacement rests with
the building owner, and that the responsibility for replacement of devices past
their life expectancy rests with the building owner, whether or not such
responsibility is enshrined in legislation in the jurisdiction in which the
residential accommodation is located.
• That residential fire detection devices be tested once per month to ensure the
power source and alarm sounder are operating; and
• That residential fire detection devices be cleaned with a vacuum cleaner
annually to remove particles that will affect performance; and
• That removable batteries, (including removable batteries in mains powered
devices) be replaced annually; and
• That residential fire detection devices be replaced when the life expectancy,
which should be clearly indicated on the base of each device, is exceeded.
Minimum:
• That residential fire detection devices be tested once per month to ensure the
power source and alarm sounder are operating; and
• That residential fire detection devices be cleaned with a vacuum cleaner
annually to remove particles that will affect performance; and
• That removable batteries, (including removable batteries in mains powered
devices) be replaced annually; and
• That residential fire detection devices be replaced when the life expectancy,
which should be clearly indicated on the base of each device, is exceeded.

Compliance
• Minimum Practice:
That all residential fire detection devices installed in residential accommodation
in accordance with the above practices comply with all relevant standards and
regulations that apply within the jurisdiction in which the residential
accommodation is located.

Notes:
1 There are two principal stages of fire, fast-flaming and slow-smoldering.
Photoelectric smoke alarms have been shown to provide adequate early warning during both the fast-
flaming and slow smoldering stages, whereas the ionization type alarm has been shown to provide less
than adequate warning in during the low smoldering stage and in fires where the smoke ages and
cools between point of origin and the location of the smoke alarm.
Ionization type alarms also have a significantly higher nuisance alarm rate, which results in many
occupiers of residential premises either:
• disabling the alarm and thereby compromising the early warning fire detection, or
• failing to respond in a timely manner to an alarm (especially multi-occupancy residences such as
apartment buildings where units throughout a building may be interconnected).
Combination ionization/photoelectric smoke alarms offer little potential benefit. For more details read
The Combo Con at: www.theComboCon.com

2 Interconnection of fire detection devices ensures that regardless of where a fire starts, all smoke
alarms in a dwelling sound in order to provide all occupants with the earliest possible warning.

3 Research shows that not all persons will be woken by a smoke alarm, particularly children under the
age of 16, the elderly and the hard of hearing. Children under 16 may respond best to alarms that
provide an audible voice command warning and in particular to the voice of a parent or guardian.
Some alarms are now available with audible voice warning, including some models that allow a parent
or guardian to record a warning in their own voice.

The World Fire Safety Foundation Residential Fire Detection & Automated Suppression Position Statement
First Published 5 December, 2004. Last Reviewed: 16 August, 2010
© Copyright 2010 The World Fire Safety Foundation
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