NFPA endorses USFA campaign urging residents to install smoke alarms and sprinklers

Published on November 6, 2009

Chris Dubay, NFPA Vice President of Codes & Standards, talks about smoke alarms:
  What are the different kinds of smoke alarms?
  What kind of smoke alarm does NFPA suggest?
  The most important message about smoke alarms.

NFPA's Lorraine Carli explains why smoke alarms are one of the best safety inventions for your home.

November 6, 2009 – Roughly 84 percent of civilian fire deaths occur in homes, according to the National Fire Protection (NFPA).  NFPA is endorsing U.S. Fire Administration’s (USFA) Install. Inspect. Protect Campaign and urging residents to install smoke alarms and sprinklers.

To prevent these deaths, USFA, a division of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is sponsoring a nationwide Install. Inspect. Protect. Campaign designed to raise awareness about how working, properly installed smoke alarms can lower a person’s chances of dying in a fire. NFPA is supporting this critical effort to reduce injuries and the loss of life.

“Smoke alarms are one of the greatest fire protection devices of our time and have significantly contributed to the decline in home fire fatalities since the late 70’s,” said James M. Shannon, president of NFPA. “But it’s not enough to randomly put up one smoke alarm and forget about it. In addition to placing smoke alarms in recommended areas, they must be kept in good working order, which includes testing them monthly, changing batteries at least once a year, and making sure that they are never disconnected.”

“In addition to smoke alarms, fire sprinklers can further reduce home fire deaths because it is simply not acceptable to say that roughly 3,000 deaths per year are okay when we know we can do better,” added Shannon.

If a there is a reported home fire, the risk of dying decreases by about 80 percent when sprinklers are present.

“If a fire breaks out in your home while you’re asleep, how will you know? Having a working smoke alarm is like having a fire safety official on duty in your home, 24 hours a day.” said Deputy U.S. Fire Administrator Glenn A. Gaines. “Working smoke alarms will alert you to the fire and we know conclusively, a residential sprinkler system can help put the fire out.” Gaines adds, “smoke alarms and sprinklers are able to provide residents the time it takes to get everyone out of the house, before firefighters have to come in.”

NFPA offers the following tips on smoke alarms:

  • As a minimum, install smoke alarms in every sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level of the home, including the basement. Larger homes may require additional smoke alarms to provide a minimum level of protection.
  • For the best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
  • Wireless battery-operated interconnected smoke alarms are now available.
  • An ionization smoke alarm is generally more responsive to flaming fires and a photoelectric smoke alarm is generally more responsive to smoldering fires. For the best protection both types of alarms or combination ionization and photoelectric alarms are recommended.
  • Choose a smoke alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Smoke alarms should be installed away from the kitchen to prevent false alarms. Generally, they should not be closer than 10 feet to a cooking appliance.
  • A smoke alarm between 10 and 20 feet of a cooking appliance must have a hush feature, which temporarily reduces the sensitivity of the alarm, or be a photoelectric type.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button.
  • Make sure everyone in your home knows the sound of the smoke alarm.
  • Smoke alarms with non-replaceable batteries are designed to remain effective for 10 years. If the alarm chirps, warning that the battery is low, replace the entire smoke alarm right away. For smoke alarms with any other type of battery, replace batteries at least once a year. If that alarm chirps, replace only the battery.
  • Replace all smoke alarms, including alarms with 10-year batteries and hardwired alarms when they are 10 years old or sooner if they do not respond properly when tested.

Visit the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition’s Web site ( for information and tips on sprinklers.

Organizations in partnership with the U.S. Fire Administration’s Install. Inspect. Protect. Campaign include the American Fire Sprinkler Association, Burn Institute, Everyone Goes Home, Fire and Emergency Manufacturers and Services Association, Fire Department Safety Officers Association, Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, Home Safety Council, International Association of Black Professional Firefighters, International Association of Fire Chiefs, International Association of Women in Fire & Emergency Services, NASFM Fire Research and Education Foundation, National Association of Hispanic Firefighters, National Association of State Fire Marshals, National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, National Fire Protection Association, National Fire Sprinkler Association, National Volunteer Fire Council, and SAFE KIDS Worldwide.

For more information on the Install. Inspect. Protect. Campaign, please visit For additional information on fire prevention and safety information, visit or

NFPA has been a worldwide leader in providing fire, electrical, building, and life safety to the public since 1896. The mission of the international nonprofit organization is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education. Visit NFPA’s Web site at

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Contact: Lorraine Carli, Public Affairs Office: +1 617 984-7275