Update on Fire Prevention’s “Bad Penny” Last October the State Fire Marshal held a summit at the DFS headquarters. Interested parties of the fire protection industry, insurance industry, testing agencies, fire service, and politicians were invited. Deputy Fleming from Boston Fire presented an argument for photoelectric smoke detectors. Most of us are familiar with what has taken place since. Our board of directors took the stand that in order to reduce fire related deaths, we would support a requirement that photoelectric smoke detectors be used in every dwelling. Since then there has been significant controversy. We know some of the facts. Photoelectrics will detect a smoldering fire sooner than an ionization detector will. An ionization detector will detect a flaming fire sooner than a photoelectric will. We see everyday, smoke in buildings, and the detectors have not gone off. Recently some of us have identified the detectors that don’t sound as being ionization. Little research exists to support what we believe to be true. The state fire marshal is waiting for the information from the testing agencies. The state fire chief’s association is waiting for the information from the testing agencies. One suggestion to the committee from Deputy Ashton, was at least to require better identification on new smoke detectors, so that as inspectors, we don’t have to remove every detector on a compliance inspection. This was not received well by the committee. However, I think it is a valid request that will be seriously considered in the final ruling. The last public hearing of the Board of Fire Prevention Regulations was attended by various members of the industry, as well as Deputy Fleming, Deputy Ashton, our representative Bob McKendrick, and myself. Testimony was given by Deputy Fleming, and Deputy Ashton requested again to have the smoke detectors properly labeled. The state fire chief’s association presented a prepared statement that they do not have enough evidence to make an intelligent decision at this point. The issue is being sent back to committee. UL is studying the issue. Eventually the outcome may be to require photoelectric, as a minimum, and allow dual technology, so long as this dual technology does not retard the detection of smoke in any way. The wheels of government turn slowly, hopefully for the protection of all citizens.
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