If your community is considering enacting and/or enforcing photoelectric sensor specific legislation in the state of Ohio, work closely with your Law Department and Building Department and consider the following information.
Residential Code of Ohio & NFPA 72
The Residential Code of Ohio (RCO) (Standard for one, two and three-family residential dwellings) Section 314.1 Smoke Detection and Notification, states "All smoke alarms shall be listed in accordance with UL 217 and installed in accordance with the provisions of this code and the Household Fire Warning Equipment provisions of NFPA 72." Section 314.2 Smoke Detection Systems, states "The system shall be maintained in accordance with NFPA 72".
NFPA 72 (2010 ed.) specifically identifies photoelectric detection smoke detectors as the detector of choice in many areas throughout the home (188.8.131.52(4)), or in some instances, throughout the entire home (A.184.108.40.206 (4)). Furthermore NFPA 72 specifically identifies ionization detection smoke detectors as being more susceptible to nuisance false alarms from cooking. (A.29.1.1, A.220.127.116.11 (4))
As the AHJ, if you require photoelectric smoke alarms throughout residential dwellings based on NFPA 72, you may not need to enact additional photoelectric legislation, as you would be in compliance with the RCO, which requires you to follow NFPA 72. Again, review this with your Law & Building Departments.
Enacting Photoelectric Specific Legislation in Your Community
If you choose to enact photoelectric specific legislation in your community for one, two and three family residential, Ohio law permits this as identified in ORC 3781.01 (B) and (C), OAC 4101:8-1-01 Section 101.3, ORC 3781.10 Section (A) (2). (Download these documents below)
Ohio law allows a local governing authority to adopt additional regulations governing residential structures that does not conflict with the Residential Code of Ohio.
“Conflict” as defined by the Ohio Supreme Court in City of Middleburg Heights, Appellee, v. Ohio Board of Building Standards, Appellant: "In determining whether an ordinance is in 'conflict' with general laws, the test is whether the ordinance permits or licenses that which the statute forbids or prohibits, and vice versa." “Local standards conflict with the state rules only when the standards prohibit that which the state allows, or require that which the state prohibits.”
Requiring photoelectric smoke alarms in specific areas of a residence while also not restricting the use of any other type of smoke detector in these or any other areas, is one way that some municipalities have written their ordinances. (Copies of ordinances currently in effect in Ohio are available to download on this site)
Ohio Building Code
If you choose to enact photoelectric legislation in your building code, Ohio law permits this as identified in ORC 3781.01 (A), ORC 3781.10 (A) (2). (Download these documents below)
Again, the “conflict rule” applies.
Note: Fire alarm systems covered within the Building Code must conform to UL standards for commercial occupancies. Smoke detectors meeting these requirements are typically specified as photoelectric across this industry.
Yes! Government officials across the globe are enacting legislation ensuring that photoelectric smoke alarms will be protecting the public in their jurisdictions.
You can find a full list of these jurisdictions and representative regulations here on our Legislation page.
Yes. Considerable case law can be found online where the manufacturers of ionization type smoke alarms are being held accountable for the results of injuries and deaths in fires where functioning ionization type smoke alarms were present.
We've put together some quick stats for those of you who like facts & figures!
United States: (2005-2009)
- 96% of homes have smoke alarms.
- Ionization type smoke alarms are installed in 90% of homes.
- 20% of these smoke alarms don’t work because of missing, disconnected or dead batteries.
- People were most likely to disconnect batteries because of nuisance false alarms.
- 73% of nuisance false alarms were due to cooking.
- 24% of home fire deaths occurred in homes in which smoke alarms were present but failed to operate.
With these stats in mind, consider these:
- Photoelectric smoke alarms reduce nuisance false alarms like those from cooking by an average of 72%!
- Photoelectric smoke alarms are, on average, 77% less likely to be disabled for any reason than ionization smoke alarms!
- "NFPA: Smoke Alarms in U.S. Home Fires" Marty Ahrens Issued: January 2019)
- Ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms in rural Alaskan homes Thomas M Fazzini, Injury Prevention Specialist,1 Ron Perkins, Director,2 and David Grossman, Co-Director3
- King County, Washington by the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center 2000-2002
- US Experience With Smoke Alarms And Other Fire Detection Alarm Equipment; NFPA2004
Download the sources here:
NFPA Smoke Alarms Ahrens (2011)
King County Washington by the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center (2000-2002)
US Experience with Smoke Alarms and Other Fire Detection Alarm Equipment (NFPA 2004)
Education Is The Key!
Even with legislation, you must have a strong campaign to promote the message, create awareness and change the public's knowledge base on smoke alarm technology.
It Starts With The Fire Department
The local fire department is one of the first places the public looks for fire safety information. First and foremost, the fire department must understand the differences in sensor technology themselves. See our Resources page for sources.
Once the fire department is up to speed and understands the importance of photoelectric smoke alarms, it's time to create the new smoke alarm public education campaign...
The Public Campaign
- Literature: Smoke alarm literature and all other pamphlets, brochures, etc. that mention smoke alarms will need to be updated to include the fact that photoelectric smoke alarms are the type of alarms that are recommended. (Sample literature is available on this site in the "Links/Videos/Downloads" section.)
- Websites: Fire Department & City websites will need to be created or updated with the photoelectric message.
- Social Media: Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. can be used to help spread the photoelectric message.
- Media: Local TV, radio & newspaper can be an effective tool to spread the word.
- Other Campaigns: Door to door, door hangers, school & public presentations, etc. can be very effective as well.
Remember, the public has listened well to the fire department message to "Buy & install the least expensive UL listed smoke alarm" for 30 years. Over 96% of homes have smoke alarms. Unfortunately, around 90% of these are ionization.
So, it's a big job but it can be done! The new message: "Buy & install UL listed photoelectric smoke alarms" needs to be heard loud and clear by the public now!