I’d like to respond to the letter ‘Smoke query’ published in Chad (8 January, 2014), in which the author was wondering why their current smoke alarm didn’t activate during cooking, while their previous alarm did.
There are several reasons why this could be the case. There are currently two types of technologies available in smoke alarms, and these dictate how sensitive the alarm is to the smaller smoke particles such as those present in cooking fumes and cigarette smoke.
Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service used to install smoke alarms with the technology to activate when even the slightest whiff of smoke was detected, but these were prone to going off during cooking.
This kind of ‘nuisance’ activation can lead householders to become complacent about the warning sound emitted by smoke alarms, or lead them to disconnect the alarm completely.
To avoid this happening, the Service recently changed to a more robust technology that detects the larger particles associated with a smouldering fire.
Both types of smoke alarm are equally effective in providing adequate warning in case of fire.
Other variables also play a part, such as the location of the smoke alarm, the level of ventilation in the room and whether the kitchen door is closed or open.
Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your property, close to, but not in, the kitchen. They should be tested regularly by pressing the button in the centre of the alarm. If your smoke alarm develops an intermittent beep it may be faulty or, in older alarms, may need new batteries. More modern smoke alarms and those fitted by the fire and rescue service have 10 year batteries that shouldn’t need changing.
We would urge everyone to ensure they have working smoke alarms, and ask that you check that elderly relatives and neighbours have them too. For further advice on smoke alarms you can contact your local fire station, or visit our website www.notts-fire.gov.uk .
Station Manager, Mansfield Fire Station