So, how are photoelectric smoke alarms doing in the real world providing Early Warnings and saving lives? Our friend, Dean Dennis, condensed a longer report for us and we want to share the eye-opening story with you.
A Tale of Two Cities, A Tale of Two Technologies
There are two different types of smoke alarm technologies; one is ionization and the other is photoelectric. Purchasing the wrong type could prove to be the difference between life and death. Ionization smoke alarms get disabled at significantly higher rates than photoelectric alarms and they have documented inconsistencies in the smoldering stage of a fire which can prove deadly. Some people responsible for protecting the public promote the notion that all smoke alarms are the same. They are wrong. Let’s examine two states and their two largest cities. Each has a message to the public about smoke alarm technology.
For over 15 years, the state of Maryland has had a consistent message: working smoke alarms save lives. Maryland does not recommend one technology over the other. Massachusetts, on the other hand, provides a different message. In Massachusetts it is stated that photoelectric technology is vital, and citizens are not protected unless they've installed photoelectric alarms. By 1995 the state’s largest fire department, the Boston FD, was distributing photoelectric alarms exclusively. By 2009, legislation required photoelectric technology in all new construction, in all apartments, and in all real estate transfers. After 15 years, photoelectric alarms are a part of the state’s fire safety culture.
Here is how these different messages impact fire death statistics.
Baltimore, with a population of 600,000, has had 75 fire deaths since 2009. By contrast, Boston – population 650,000 – has had only 4 fire deaths in the same time period. Statewide, the fire death rates between Maryland and Massachusetts also vary greatly. Using the most recent U.S. Fire Administration statistics from 2009, Maryland averages 11.4 fire deaths per one million people. Massachusetts is significantly lower, averaging only 5.3 fire deaths per million people.
To understand the implications let’s look at our state, Ohio, which sends the same message as Maryland. Ohio’s 2009 fire death rate was 10.7 fire deaths per million. If Ohio’s rate was as low as Massachusetts’s at 5.3 per million, then we would be saving 60 lives each year in Ohio. It’s time to send a different message and inform the public about the importance of photoelectric alarms.