Characterizing smoke from residential materials

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Related report
NFPA's "Smoke Alarms in U.S. Homes Fires" report

Fire Protection Research Foundation report: "Characterizing Smoke from Residential Materials" (PDF)
Authors: Thomas Z. Fabian, Ph.D., Pravinray D. Gandhi, Ph.D., P.E., Underwriters Laboratories Inc.
Date of issue: 2007


Residential smoke alarms provide an important notification to individuals within a residential setting that there is a presence of smoke and/or fire. Over the last four decades, several studies have been conducted to determine the response of smoke alarms and to assist in establishing performance criteria for their use in residential settings.

With the advent of new smoke particulate and the gas effluent measurement technologies becoming commercially available, UL, with support from FPRF initiated this research project to more fully characterize the products of flaming and non- flaming combustion. The materials investigated included a range of products and chemistries commonly found in today's residential settings.

The objectives of the investigation were as follows:

  • Develop smoke characterization analytical test protocols using non- flaming and flaming modes of combustion on selected materials found in residential settings.
  • Using materials from the analytical smoke program, develop smoke particle size istribution data and smoke profiles in the UL 217/UL 268 Fire Test Room for both nonflaming and flaming modes of combustion.
  • Provide data and analysis to the fire community for several possible initiatives:
    • Develop recommendations to the current residential smoke alarm standard (UL 217).
    • Development of new smoke sensing technology.
    • Provide data to the materials and additives industries to facilitate new smoke suppression technologies and improved end products.

The Research Foundation expresses gratitude to the report authors Thomas Fabian and Pravinray Gandhi of Underwriters Laboratories Inc; and to the Project Technical Panelists and sponsors listed on the following page.