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1337Delta764
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Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Tue May 24, 2011 12:23 am

Here in the United States, the ionization-type smoke detector is the most popular type, since they are less expensive than photoelectric or dual-sensor alarms. However, there are major issues with the ionization type, both in effectiveness and environmental impact.

Companies such as First Alert/BRK and Kidde talk about the pros and cons of each type. While ionization-type smoke detectors are quicker at detecting fast flaming fires, studies have actually shown the difference is insignificant between photoelectric and ionization alarms. On the other hand, photoelectric smoke alarms do a far better job at detecting slow smoldering fires, in fact, there was a lawsuit against First Alert/BRK in the late 90s/early 2000s about their ionization detectors FAILING to detect slow smoldering fires. This lawsuit almost put First Alert/BRK out of business.

In addition, in higher elevations, ionization-type smoke detectors tend to be even less effective. This is often overlooked by many homebuilders here in New Mexico as ionization-type alarms are cheaper.

Another drawback to ionization-type smoke detectors is that they contain the radioactive element Americium, which is an environmental hazard. Also, there have been reports of some people using the americium from smoke alarms to create dirty bombs.

So, I think that there should be a ban against ionization-type smoke detectors. What does anyone think?
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WarRI1
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Tue May 24, 2011 12:40 am

I still have photo-electric detectors working well after many years. I test them on a regular basis, never failed. I hate the Ionization type, I have replaced them many times, not fast either when tested, prone to false alarms also. I have to give credit to Lowes, they have given me a new one many times, no questions asked. The few that lasted near the stated life, are few and far between. Are there still Photo- Electric's for sale in the US?

[Edited 2011-05-23 17:58:06]

[Edited 2011-05-23 17:58:39]
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Fly2HMO
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Tue May 24, 2011 12:50 am

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Thread starter):
So, I think that there should be a ban against ionization-type smoke detectors. What does anyone think?

I don't know where you got all that info but it sounds like you're buying into the usual media fear mongering.  

This is the most flawed part:

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Thread starter):

Another drawback to ionization-type smoke detectors is that they contain the radioactive element Americium, which is an environmental hazard. Also, there have been reports of some people using the americium from smoke alarms to create dirty bombs.

Americium is an extremely week radioactive element. Do you really think the government would allow them into households if they were actually a hazard? You're life would be more in danger if you overdosed on vitamin D compared to eating the Am in the detector. Not to mention the radiation is completely shielded, and even if it wasn't', all it would take to shield it would be a sheet of paper. That's how weak it is.

But don't take my word for it:

http://p10.hostingprod.com/@spyblog....irty-bomb-plot-smoke-detector.html

There's plenty of other non dramatized sources around. Google it.
 
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Tue May 24, 2011 12:58 am

The only thing I don't like about Ionization-type is that they are more prone to false alarms, especially when dealing with steam from bathroom. Other than that I don't see a problem with them. The "radioactive" material is not dangerous at all as far as I know.
 
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Tue May 24, 2011 1:16 am

Quoting Fly2HMO (Reply 2):
Americium is an extremely week radioactive element. Do you really think the government would allow them into households if they were actually a hazard? You're life would be more in danger if you overdosed on vitamin D compared to eating the Am in the detector. Not to mention the radiation is completely shielded, and even if it wasn't', all it would take to shield it would be a sheet of paper. That's how weak it is.

This is not the only reason I am calling for a ban, the main reason is because they are ineffective against slow smoldering fires, which are just as important as fast flaming fires. Therefore, with ionization-type alarms, you are only half protected.

Quoting WarRI1 (Reply 1):
Are there still Photo- Electric's for sale in the US?

Yes, you can easily find them online. Also, Costco (at least in my area) now sells photoelectric alarms exclusively, probably due to the elevation issues with ionization-type alarms.

[Edited 2011-05-23 18:17:01]

[Edited 2011-05-23 18:19:19]
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Tue May 24, 2011 1:46 am

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Reply 4):
Yes, you can easily find them online. Also, Costco (at least in my area) now sells photoelectric alarms exclusively, probably due to the elevation issues with ionization-type alarms.

I will check that out, thanks for the information.
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Mir
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Tue May 24, 2011 4:53 am

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Reply 4):
This is not the only reason I am calling for a ban, the main reason is because they are ineffective against slow smoldering fires, which are just as important as fast flaming fires. Therefore, with ionization-type alarms, you are only half protected.

So let people be half protected if they want to be. No need to ban anything.

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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Tue May 24, 2011 5:21 am

Quoting Mir (Reply 6):
So let people be half protected if they want to be. No need to ban anything.

Of course, nobody intentionally wants to be half-protected. It is simply that unaware consumers base their selection solely on price, as ionization type alarms are generally cheaper. There should definitely be some action taken on products that don't work as advertised, especially if they can result in fatal consequences.

Everyone should read this:
http://www.taylormartino.com/product...oke_alarms/smoke-alarm-lawsuit.cfm
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Mir
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Tue May 24, 2011 5:24 am

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Reply 7):
It is simply that unaware consumers base their selection solely on price, as ionization type alarms are generally cheaper.

So then the appropriate response is to put out the information on why a certain type of detector works better than the other, not to outright ban a certain type.

-Mir
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Fly2HMO
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Tue May 24, 2011 9:33 pm

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Reply 7):

Everyone should read this:
http://www.taylormartino.com/product...oke_alarms/smoke-alarm-lawsuit.cfm

Seriously? A lawyer's website? What an unbiased source of info.  
Quoting Mir (Reply 8):

So then the appropriate response is to put out the information on why a certain type of detector works better than the other, not to outright ban a certain type.

IMO The real solution is people should research before they buy, rather than buying the cheapest thing on the shelf. But I guess the average Joe couldn't be bothered  
 
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Tue May 24, 2011 11:13 pm

Quoting Fly2HMO (Reply 9):
Seriously? A lawyer's website? What an unbiased source of info.

Why would he be biased? These are actual statistics, not some fairy tale that a lawyer would fabricate. The manufacturers should be held responsible for wrongful death to many people due to ionization-type smoke detectors not working as advertised.

The packaging of these smoke alarms state the benefits of both types of alarms, however, they do not specifically mention how much faster one type of alarm would respond to a certain type of fire. While ionization-type alarms respond more quicky to fast flaming fires, the difference in time is insignifcant, and a photoelectric alarm would still respond in a reasonable amount of time where you can safely escape. For slow smoldering fires, however, an ionization-type alarm could take 15 to 30 minutes longer to respond than a photoelectric alarm, and may not even respond at all in some cases. With synthetic materials making up more of today's furniture, this is especially important, since these materials can produce toxic fumes when burning. In truth, ionization-type smoke detectors should really be called fire detectors.

Three states have already banned ionization-type alarms in new buildings: Massachusetts, Iowa, and Vermont. There really is no reason why all other states shouldn't follow.

Here is what I at least recommend to everyone:
If you home only has ionization-type alarms, replace one of them on each floor with a photoelectric alarm. Keep in mind that most newer homes have the alarms interconnected, so for compatibility, make sure that the photoelectric alarm that you buy is the same brand as the ionization alarms in your house.
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Mir
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Tue May 24, 2011 11:23 pm

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Reply 10):
Why would he be biased?

Because he makes his money going after smoke detector companies.

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Reply 10):
These are actual statistics, not some fairy tale that a lawyer would fabricate.

And if you read them, the conclusion that he draws is completely unsupported - unless the statistics differentiate between types of smoke detectors, trying to claim that one type of alarm is at fault is utterly bogus.

-Mir
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Wed May 25, 2011 1:27 am

Quoting Mir (Reply 11):
And if you read them, the conclusion that he draws is completely unsupported - unless the statistics differentiate between types of smoke detectors, trying to claim that one type of alarm is at fault is utterly bogus.

He states that 95% of all smoke alarms installed in the U.S. are ionization-type, while only 2.5% are photoelectric type, therefore it is safe to imply that the type of smoke alarms installed in these homes are ionization-type.

The fact is, banning ionization-type smoke alarms could save thousands of lives yearly. Why wouldn't you be for saving lives? Clearly, you are the one who is biased.

[Edited 2011-05-24 18:27:41]
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Wed May 25, 2011 2:25 am

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Reply 12):

The fact is, banning ionization-type smoke alarms could save thousands of lives yearly.

Oh ok. So using your logic we should then ban all cars on the road now with no airbags, ABS, ESP, defrosters, etc etc because that would save lives too     

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Reply 12):
Clearly, you are the one who is biased.

Way to make a mountain out of a molehill bud  
 
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Wed May 25, 2011 2:37 am

Quoting Fly2HMO (Reply 13):
Oh ok. So using your logic we should then ban all cars on the road now with no airbags, ABS, ESP, defrosters, etc etc because that would save lives too

But what reason is there to defend ionization-type smoke alarms? Clearly none. Most newer cars include most of those features you describe anyway. And I don't mean banning existing ionization alarms from use, just banning the sale of them. Basically, this is simply like updating building codes.

[Edited 2011-05-24 19:45:59]
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Mir
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Wed May 25, 2011 3:47 am

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Reply 12):
He states that 95% of all smoke alarms installed in the U.S. are ionization-type

Without a reference to the specific time frame that he cites at the top of the page. So I'm suspicious of how that data was derived, and whether it really has any connection to what he's trying to get at or whether it's just something thrown out that doesn't have much to do with anything but sounds alarming.

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Reply 12):
The fact is, banning ionization-type smoke alarms could save thousands of lives yearly.

What would be even more helpful is if the government would, rather than ban a certain type of detector outright, develop updated standards that manufacturers would have to meet. After all, that is the goal, isn't it? Fires don't decide to be any more or less dangerous based on what sort of smoke detector is present. I don't care how my smoke detector works - it could be a canary in a cage that sneezes loudly whenever it inhales smoke for all I care. I do care that it works. A photoelectric detector that doesn't work is just as useless as an ionization detector that doesn't work.

-Mir
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Wed May 25, 2011 7:37 pm

Really, anyone who defends ionization-type smoke detectors probably have a conflict of interest with the manufacturers (BRK, Kidde, etc.).

Here is a real test:
http://www.planetfiresafety.com/
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njxc500
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Wed May 25, 2011 11:44 pm

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Thread starter):
So, I think that there should be a ban against ionization-type smoke detectors. What does anyone think?

You better start petitioning for a ban on the photoelectric ones too because they don't respond well to flaming fires.

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Reply 16):
Really, anyone who defends ionization-type smoke detectors probably have a conflict of interest with the manufacturers (BRK, Kidde, etc.).

Don't forget if you ban ionization detectors, then you ONLY have photoelectric.

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Reply 14):
But what reason is there to defend ionization-type smoke alarms? Clearly none.

They detect fast burning and flaming fires much better.

Quoting Mir (Reply 6):
So let people be half protected if they want to be. No need to ban anything.

This is my choice, don't ban, raise awareness.....

Here are the facts:

NFPA 2011 - http://www.nfpa.org/itemDetail.asp?c...0vs.%20photoelectric&cookie_test=1

TEST of different types of detectors in different types of fires...

http://youtu.be/SnAaeTDRxek

In my opinion, the DUAL type smoke detectors are best, both Photoelectric and Ionization.

But wait, there's a third option: Triple protection, IONIZATION, PHOTOELECTRIC and THERMAL.

The Omni Sensor, model 3251, is a microprocessor-based
smoke detector which uses a combination of ionization,
photoelectronic, and thermal sensing technologies.

http://www.systemsensor.com/pdf/A05-255.pdf

As much as we hate to admit, this comes down to cost. $10 for ionization, $30 for combination, thousands for the ultimate.....
 
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Wed May 25, 2011 11:56 pm

Quoting njxc500 (Reply 17):
They detect fast burning and flaming fires much better.

By much better, do you mean by 30 seconds? Official studies have shown that ionization alarms are about only 30 seconds faster at detecting fast flaming fires than photoelectric alarms, regardless of what the manufacturers claim. But with a slow smoldering fire, as seen in the YouTube video, after 30 MINUTES the ionization detector still failed to detect all that smoke in the tank. Trust me, I would never lie about these things. It clearly shows how gullible average consumers are.
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Thu May 26, 2011 12:47 am

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Reply 18):
Trust me, I would never lie about these things.

Okay, now you've got me curious: what exactly is your connection to the smoke alarm industry? Because you're certainly sounding like you have one. Do you work for a company in the industry? Do you work for or with a fire department? Do you work in municipal government with building codes?

-Mir
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Thu May 26, 2011 1:09 am

Quoting Mir (Reply 19):
Okay, now you've got me curious: what exactly is your connection to the smoke alarm industry? Because you're certainly sounding like you have one. Do you work for a company in the industry? Do you work for or with a fire department? Do you work in municipal government with building codes?

No, i don't, however, I am a very truthful person. I just like to promote the truth. This thread as become similar to those flame wars about the Boeing 767-400ER between Boeing and Airbus fans. It seems that many of the posters here have been brainwashed by the manufacturers.

[Edited 2011-05-25 18:11:34]
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jetblast
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Thu May 26, 2011 1:27 am

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Reply 7):
There should definitely be some action taken on products that don't work as advertised, especially if they can result in fatal consequences.

Any smoke detector can not work as advertised through poor installation or improper maintenance. I have been to fires where perfectly good detectors were installed in the building but did not work. Maybe we should just remove smoke detectors from stores, since the examples I mentioned 'did not work as advertised'.

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Reply 18):
Trust me, I would never lie about these things.

People who say things like this lead me to not believe them.

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Reply 20):
No, i don't, however, I am a very truthful person. I just like to promote the truth. This thread as become similar to those flame wars about the Boeing 767-400ER between Boeing and Airbus fans. It seems that many of the posters here have been brainwashed by the manufacturers.

I'd like to see your fire protection engineering degree, or other credential of merit. I did my time in the fire service and even I have no idea what you are going on about.

Have you ever noticed how the flame wars you quote are fueled by you and your incredible lack of facts, or that you never have any unbiased source to support your claims? It's the same thing over and over again. Show me a reasonable argument backed by facts that make sense and I will gladly rescind my statements.

You like the Boeing 767-400ER and anyone who disagrees with you is blasphemous in your mind and banished to hell, we get it...
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Thu May 26, 2011 1:36 am

Quoting jetblast (Reply 21):
Have you ever noticed how the flame wars you quote are fueled by you and your incredible lack of facts, or that you never have any unbiased source to support your claims? It's the same thing over and over again. Show me a reasonable argument backed by facts that make sense and I will gladly rescind my statements.

And why isn't that YouTube video convincing enough? That video is absolute proof.
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jetblast
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Thu May 26, 2011 1:48 am

Let's have a look at the sources you have provided so far.

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Reply 7):
Everyone should read this:
http://www.taylormartino.com/product...t.cfm

This is a lawyer's website, trying to make a buck for him or his colleagues.

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Reply 16):
Here is a real test:
http://www.planetfiresafety.com/

This is a company's website, trying to sell their product and also make a buck.

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Reply 22):
And why isn't that YouTube video convincing enough? That video is absolute proof.

No, it's not. The test was performed in a controlled environment. Unless you live in a burn building consisting of solid concrete, chances are it's not accurate. Each type of detector has a purpose - both ionization and photoelectric.

Allow me to quote from this excellent link in reply 17, provided by the national authority in such matters:

Quoting njxc500 (Reply 17):
NFPA 2011 - http://www.nfpa.org/itemDetail.asp?c...est=1

which states that both types of detector do, in fact, have advantages. Banning ionisation detectors would remove some of those advantages.
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Thu May 26, 2011 1:56 am

Quoting jetblast (Reply 23):
which states that both types of detector do, in fact, have advantages. Banning ionisation detectors would remove some of those advantages.

The NFPA is not always right, in fact, some of their members probably have a conflict of interest with the manufacturers. Read here:
http://www.theworldfiresafetyfoundat...rs_Ago,_From_Our_FireFighters.html
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jetblast
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Thu May 26, 2011 2:04 am

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Reply 24):
The NFPA is not always right, in fact, some of their members probably have a conflict of interest with the manufacturers. Read here:

That entire website is a conspiracy theory, probably affiliated with the same people you linked in reply 16 seeing how they both center around Australia. If you were in any way affiliated with the fire service, you would be able to see that most of what is posted makes no sense. I have never heard of this 'World Fire Safety Foundation'.

Despite their views, I do know that as a firefighter I trusted my life, that of my colleagues, and that of the public with products and policies created or approved by NFPA; and I would have no problem doing such today.
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Thu May 26, 2011 3:11 am

Quoting jetblast (Reply 25):
That entire website is a conspiracy theory, probably affiliated with the same people you linked in reply 16 seeing how they both center around Australia. If you were in any way affiliated with the fire service, you would be able to see that most of what is posted makes no sense. I have never heard of this 'World Fire Safety Foundation'.

Despite their views, I do know that as a firefighter I trusted my life, that of my colleagues, and that of the public with products and policies created or approved by NFPA; and I would have no problem doing such today.

Okay, now I have a question for you: In your experience, how much faster does an ionization detector detect a fast flaming fire vs. a photoelectric? If the difference is less than 5 minutes, that isn't convincing enough for me to switch to ionization detectors. A difference of 30 minutes with a slow smoldering fire means a lot more than a difference of 5 minutes or less with a fast flaming fire.
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njxc500
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Thu May 26, 2011 3:20 am

I figured we needed another round of information....

The World Fire Safety Foundation was started by an Ex firefighter named Adrian Butler. All this research seems awfully biased....the WFSF shows a video of an ionization dectector with smoke, but not photoelectric with flames. The link to Youtube, shows BOTH.

QUOTE:

"The New Zealand Safety Council has been campaigning since 2003 to have an enquiry into Ionization Alarms and the mounting evidence that they will not detect smouldering fires.

We contacted the New Zealand Fire Service [NZFS], with all the evidence gathered by Adrian Butler, Chair of the World Fire Safety Foundation.

This evidence was rejected by three senior NZFS Fire Safety & Technical staff.
All ongoing correspondence has been ignored.

Our previous request to Government Ministers for an independent review was referred to NZ Fire Service and was subsequently 'rubbished' as we expected."

http://www.safetycouncil.org.nz/inde...zealand-homes-&catid=69&Itemid=100
 
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Thu May 26, 2011 3:28 am

Quoting jetblast (Reply 25):
Despite their views, I do know that as a firefighter I trusted my life, that of my colleagues, and that of the public with products and policies created or approved by NFPA; and I would have no problem doing such today.

As I mentioned earlier in this thread, I have several very old photoelectric type alarm units, I test them with a direct flame, a match, without fail, the photo unit outperforms the Ionization units in speed. One match versus several. I can hear the new units click, no alarm right away. My old units are way beyond their recommended life, still work every time. I have 5 new type, I do not treally trust them.
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jetblast
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Thu May 26, 2011 3:34 am

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Reply 26):
Okay, now I have a question for you: In your experience, how much faster does an ionization detector detect a fast flaming fire vs. a photoelectric? If the difference is less than 5 minutes, that isn't convincing enough for me to switch to ionization detectors. A difference of 30 minutes with a slow smoldering fire means a lot more than a difference of 5 minutes or less with a fast flaming fire

My area of expertise is not how fast a smoke detector would begin activating after the point of ignition, it is what to do when my engine arrives and we begin putting it out. I am not an expert on the subject of smoke detectors but I do know enough to realise that your sources are rubbish.

5 minutes is enough to kill you, whether it's from smoke inhalation or physical burns. If you don't want to switch detectors, that's up to you.

[Edited 2011-05-25 20:34:47]
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Thu May 26, 2011 3:43 am

Of course, fast flaming fires are more likely to occur when you are awake, while slow smoldering fires are more likely to occur when you are asleep.
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Mir
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Thu May 26, 2011 3:53 am

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Reply 30):
Of course, fast flaming fires are more likely to occur when you are awake, while slow smoldering fires are more likely to occur when you are asleep.

Source?

-Mir
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jetblast
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Thu May 26, 2011 4:08 am

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Reply 30):

But what if I am laying down and appearing to be asleep, but I am actually not? Is the fire going to somehow verify this, and then base its intensity off of it?

Slow-smoldering fires are just as likely to occur when someone is awake, but they are usually noticed faster. It's slightly difficult for someone to notice a fire when they are asleep - such is the reason for devices like smoke detectors...
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RE: Ban Ionization-type Smoke Detectors?

Thu May 26, 2011 4:34 am

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Reply 20):
It seems that many of the posters here have been brainwashed by the manufacturers.

That's hysterical, coming from you.  

But it's not you, it's everyone else.... right??

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