The NEOFPA & Ohio Fire Marshal’s Office need detailed, accurate information on the behavior of smoke detectors across the state of Ohio. To document the differences in the operations of Ionization vs. Photoelectric smoke detectors in the real world, fire departments need to include this information in the NFIRS (National Fire Incident Reporting System) Fire Report. The smoke detector fields in the NFIRS report do not ask for enough detail to document the differences.
According to the Ohio Fire Marshal’s Smoke Alarm Advisory Task Force Report (4-24-12), the fire incident reports that Ohio’s fire departments submit to the state need to be updated “…because current data does not differentiate among smoke alarm technologies nor does it provide a reason for failure in alerting occupants…”
Since the publishing of that report, the fire marshals office has not provided any reporting updates or directives to Ohio’s fire service to assist in the needed documentation of smoke alarm performance in fires.
It is imperative that fire departments document not only if smoke detectors were present and operative, but what types (photoelectric/ionization), if the battery was good or dead, how they operated (appropriately/delayed/not at all) and how this affected fire damage, the escape time and injuries or deaths that resulted.
An example documentation might be: Ionization detectors were found in appropriate locations (listed) with good batteries. Occupants reported that they awoke to the dog barking, but did not hear any smoke detectors sounding. Firefighters stated that after they arrived, they heard detectors begin to activate.
This additional detailed information can currently be entered into the body of the narrative.
Furthermore, if you believe the smoke detectors played a part in additional fire damage, injuries or deaths, or if you are unsure the type of smoke detectors or if the battery was good/dead due to damage, it will be imperative to secure, preserve and collect them as evidence avoiding any spoliation possibilities. Contact NEOFPA Executive Board members for assistance or guidance if needed.SAATF Report (528 downloads)