Smoke detector technology advances
For residents often one of the primary tools to keep families safe is a smoke detector. And while these have been a fixture of homes for years, the technology is continuing to improve making it more convenient and reliable for homeowners.
One recent advance in technology for smoke detectors is better battery protection. In fact, many on the market will continue to operate for up to 10 years. This can give property owners peace of mind that they have protection.
Fire Chief Bruce Wade likes the new technology, he says owners cannot become complacent.
“My only concern is people still have to test them. They can’t put them up and forget about them for 10 years and never clean them or never test them,” he said.
He says maintaining a smoke detector can be as simple as dusting it.
“Depending on the type of smoke detector, there is a photoelectric eye, so that anything impedes that it sets the detector off. Spiders get in them and build a web or there is dust,” he said.
He adds to make sure when buying a smoke detector it is ULC or CSA ap- proved and installed properly.
Part of installation is making sure they are the proper detectors and placing them in the proper place. Installing a detector too close to cooking areas or near showers can be a nuisance. New building codes call for smoke detectors in sleeping areas, one in a common area and one on every level of the house. There also has to be a carbon monoxide detector.
Wade adds there are systems that have a wifi connection, that way if one goes off all of the detectors react.
“They have to have them now because fire burns so quickly, people only have three minutes,” said Wade.
Bob Sheddy of Drumheller Housing Administration and Century 21 PowerRealty.ca says they have been replacing its detectors with the 10-year powered Smoke/CO units for over a year. He also worked with the Drumheller Co-op to bring them in for sale.
“Smoke detectors are either battery operated or wired in, but even wired in ones have a backup battery that needed to be changed once a year,” said Sheddy.
He likes the new technology because often in rental properties, residents may not be vigilant in maintaining the batteries. In addition, these new ones actually vocalize English and French commands if there is an issue, so no longer do residents have to figure out what the different patterns of beeps mean. (Often once every 30 seconds means the battery is dying or the detector is at end of life). “Residents often call us af- ter hours to help diagnose what the beeping is. Now they will know right away what issue the detector is announcing. Although batteries are relatively inexpensive some residents have issues safely reaching the detector to replace it.”
“As a property manager it is frustrating to find that a smoke detector has had the 9V battery removed. Some residents will call the office and we would gladly send someone to change the battery at our cost, but when we do our random inspections, countless times we find the battery removed,” said Sheddy.
Fire Chief Bruce Wade shows the variety of smoke detectors that are available to homeowners.
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