NFPA Journal®, March/April 2005
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The use of smoke detection systems is now a given. Forty years ago, this was not the case. Ionization detectors required a license and were found only in small installations. In 1969, Princeton University jolted to life the smoke detection industry by installing an almost 4,000-head fire protection system in its dormitories. This was by far the largest smoke detection /fire alarm system to that date and was the catalyst for what was to follow throughout the industry. The pioneering system was a success and other institutions installed like systems. A failure at Princeton would have been a major setback for the growth of smoke detection in this country and probably in the world.
The people at Princeton University should be commended for the work they had done. There are now about 20,000 heads installed at the school.
Smoke detection systems have come a long way in 40 years but have yet to universally solve response failures. Smoke detection is useless without a proper response.
Owners of complete systems with 24/7 operations should assume responsibility for immediately responding to all alarms not only for life safety reasons but also for the prevention of fires past the smoldering stage.
Harry L. Masten, P.E., C.P.E.
Pennsville, New Jersey