Smoke Alarm Compliance for the Elderly - US Fire Administration

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					                                                       Smoke Alarm Compliance   1


Running head: SMOKE ALARM COMPLIANCE FOR THE ELDERLY: LIFE SAFETY




                    Smoke Alarm Compliance for the Elderly:

                    Life Safety in Owner Occupied Dwellings

                               Gordon D. Olson

               South King Fire & Rescue, Federal Way, Washington




                                 October 2009
                                                                  Smoke Alarm Compliance          2


                                            Abstract

The number of owner occupied dwellings, of adults age 65 and older, in the City of Federal Way

and the City of Des Moines, protected by South King Fire & Rescue (SKF&R), is increasing and

not meeting the new standards of smoke alarm type and installation which will lead to an

increase in death and injury from fire. This Applied Research Project (APR) will improve the

safety and survival rate of the elderly in owner occupied dwellings. The research looked at the

demographics of the target group and their dwellings, current requirements, codes, and

recommendations for smoke alarm protection in dwellings, the needs in the dwellings of the

target group, and how to satisfy those needs. The research confirmed a significant increase of

elderly citizens and older homes following a fire department merger in 2006. The research

identified current codes regarding smoke alarms that have improved through technology and

research including a secure power source, better smoke alarm placement, and interconnection of

alarms. The research found that the owner occupied homes of the target population are well

below compliance levels. Additionally, a program to help meet the needs of compliance will

need good funding, community support, and an installation program that includes firefighter

involvement. The recommendations of this APR are to work with the elderly in SKF&R’s

jurisdiction, develop a smoke alarm compliance educational program for the elderly, institute a

more visible battery replacement program, strengthen the code for retroactive compliance in the

Cities of Federal Way and Des Moines, support any industry advances in technology, and design

a smoke alarm program to address the long term needs of the elderly with regard to smoke alarm

compliance.
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                                                             Table of Contents

                                                                                                                                              Page

Abstract .................................................................................................................................     2

Table of Contents ..................................................................................................................           3

Introduction ...........................................................................................................................       5

Background and Significance ...............................................................................................                    6

Literature Review ..................................................................................................................           11

Procedures .............................................................................................................................       20

Results ...................................................................................................................................    30

Discussion .............................................................................................................................       37

Recommendations .................................................................................................................              49

References .............................................................................................................................       53

                                                                  Appendices

Appendix A             Smoke Detector Survey ................................................................................                  58

Appendix B             Flyer to SKF&R Residents ...........................................................................                    60

Appendix C             Smoke Alarm Program Questionnaire ..........................................................                            61

                                                                List of Tables

Table 1                Demographics ...............................................................................................            62

Table 2                Age of Owner-Occupied Dwelling ...............................................................                          63

Table 3                Current Code Requirements in SKF&R Jurisdiction ....................................                                    64

Table 4                Smoke Detector Survey Data - Demographics .............................................                                 66

Table 5                Smoke Detector Survey Data - Power, type, age, and maintenance ............                                             68

Table 6                Smoke Detector Survey Data - Comparison to current code ........................                                        69
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Table 7    Smoke Detector Program Questionnaire Data ..............................................              70

                                             List of Figures

Figure 1   Age Distribution in SKF&R .........................................................................   71

Figure 2   Number of Person 65+, 1900-2030 ...............................................................       72

Figure 3   Casualties Rates By Age (2004) ...................................................................    73
                                                                      Smoke Alarm Compliance         5


                            Smoke Alarm Compliance for the Elderly:

                             Life Safety in Owner Occupied Dwellings

                                            Introduction

         It is hard to comprehend why people continue to die in fires when smoke alarms are so

easy to acquire, relatively inexpensive, and are proven time and again to save lives. The National

Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U. S. Fire Administration (USFA) has stated that

home smoke alarm usage has risen from less than 10% in 1975 to at least 95% in 2000 cutting

the number of fire deaths in homes by nearly 50%. Thus, the home smoke alarm is credited as

the greatest success story in fire safety in the last part of the 20th century (Bukowski et al., 2008,

p. 3).

         The problem is that the number of owner occupied dwellings, of adults age 65 and older,

in the City of Federal Way and the City of Des Moines, protected by South King Fire & Rescue

(SKF&R), is increasing and not meeting the new and updated life safety standards of smoke

alarm type and installation which will lead to an increase in death and injury from fire.

         The purpose of the Applied Research Project (ARP) is to improve the safety and survival

rate of the elderly in owner occupied dwellings. This will be done by identifying the target

population and their dwellings, determining current requirements and recommendations for

smoke alarms, determining the extent of non-compliance, and identifying what elements of a life

safety program would help adults, age 65 and older, living in owner occupied dwellings, obtain

compliance with current smoke alarm life safety standards.

         This ARP titled Smoke Alarm Compliance for the Elderly: Life Safety in Owner Occupied

Dwellings used descriptive research. The following questions comprise the basis for this ARP: 1)

What are the demographics of the target group and their dwellings? This will answer the extent
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of the target population of owner occupied dwellings of adults age 65 and older. 2) What are the

current requirements, codes, and recommendations for smoke alarm protection in dwellings?

This will answer what the current smoke alarm compliance standards in dwelling units are and if

any of these standards or codes are retroactive. 3) What are the needs in the dwellings of the

target group? This will identify with the extent of non-compliance in owner occupied dwellings

of adults age 65 and older with respect to smoke alarms. 4) How can these needs be satisfied?

This will identify best industry compliance delivery elements to alleviate the problem and ensure

occupants are protected from death or injury by fire.

                                  Background and Significance

       SKF&R is the largest fire district in the state of Washington. The department was formed

as a volunteer fire department in 1949 and became a combination fire department in 1964 with

the hiring of its first full time fire chief. Although the department was legally named King

County Fire District (KCFD) #39, it carried the name Federal Way Fire Department on its patch.

This was the area term for its location in south King County since the late 1800s because of three

Federal Roads intersecting within its region. The department went through four periods of

growth in the 1970s and 1980s as four neighboring fire districts merged into KCFD #39. The

City of Federal Way formed in 1990 and quickly annexed into the existing fire district. A merger

in 2006 with King County Fire District #26 (City of Des Moines) resulted in the current name

change to South King Fire & Rescue (SKF&R) [note: the “&” symbol is a legal part of the

department’s name]. The department now covers the City of Federal Way, the City of Des

Moines, and some unincorporated areas of King County (Seattle Washington is in King County),

as well as a portion of the City of Auburn (Washington) by contract and a portion of the City of

Normandy Park by contract. The department covers 42 square miles while serving approximately
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150,000 citizens. SKF&R has 162 employees with 139 being uniformed personnel. Seven staffed

fire stations respond to emergency calls. In 2008, SKF&R responded to approximately 16,000

incidents with 75% being emergency medical service (EMS) responses.

       Additionally, the department has a training and maintenance station, a fire prevention

division housed at the City Hall of Federal Way, and a fire boat (Marine 26) housed at the City

of Des Moines Marina. SKF&R provides fire suppression and emergency medical services

(EMS) services (Basic Life Support (BLS) only, Advanced Life Support (ALS) is a third service

provider known as King County Medic 1), technical rescue including high angle, low angle,

confined space, trench rescue, and vehicle extrication. Marine firefighting and open water rescue

covering Puget Sound and over 50 local lakes, hazardous materials response-level A and

hazardous materials response-operations level to the district and on a zone basis to most of South

King County (King County is divided into response zones with SKF&R being in Zone 3). The

Fire Prevention division does business safety inspections, participates is permitting processes,

and performs accident and arson investigations. Public education efforts occur in the schools,

senior centers, and businesses of both communities. The department maintains a strong

partnership related to emergency management efforts in the communities of Federal Way and

Des Moines.

       The focus of this ARP problem stems from many factors. Most notably was the merger of

Federal Way Fire Department and the Des Moines Fire Department in January of 2006. Des

Moines was a much older community with a significantly higher elderly population (18%) than

the City of Federal Way (10%) (Figure 1). As these communities continues to age, the impact

upon of SKF&R is becoming clearer. Not only will the increase in occurrences of emergency

medical responses continue to grow, but also SKF&R will face a fire threat because of the
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increasing age of the homes and the lack of up-to-date early fire warning devices in these homes.

While SKF&R has not yet had an elderly fire death in many years, the chances are growing each

and every day. SKF&R and this author have chosen to meet this challenge early with this

research and the subsequent recommendations as a means to head off this probable impact and

increase the future effectiveness of this organization to minimize death and injury from fire to

SKF&R's elderly citizens.

         People age 65 and older numbered 37.3 million according to the national census in 2006.

This was 12.4% of the entire United States population. It is estimated that there will be

approximately 71.5 million people age 65 and older in the year 2030 (Figure 2). People age 65

and older are expected to comprise 20% of the population at that time. This doubles the number

of people age 65 and older from the 2000 numbers. Since 1900, Americans age 65 and older

have tripled (Administration on Aging, 2008).

         The Cities of Federal Way and Des Moines are long established bedroom communities.

The western border of SKF&R's fire district follows the shores of Puget Sound. This gives many

established homes a view of this remarkable body of water. Because of this, families have lived

in their homes many years with no plans for relocation. The homes are generally well built

although now reaching the 30 to 50 year old age range.

         People age 65 and older are less likely to change their home residence than other age

groups. In the United States, only 4.2% of this target population changed homes in 2006-2007 as

compared to 17.0% of those under 65 years of age. The average age of a home in 2007 for

people age 65 and older was 40 years old as having been built in 1969. 4.4% of those homes had

physical problems in 2007 (U.S. Census Bureau, Current Housing reports, Series H150/07,

2008).
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       The problem exists in owner occupied dwelling for several reasons. People are choosing

to stay longer in their homes because of comfort and familiarity. Living in a single family home

has become easier because of better health care and technology. There are tax breaks for the

elderly that entice them to stay in their homes. However, the life safety standards for items such

as smoke alarms are not retroactive and while most homes were built to the standards required at

the time they were built, standards are higher now. In short, these homes are missing complete

protection from smoke alarms. The increasing usage of smoke alarms in residential homes has

been a major factor in the reduction in the number of reported fires. When smoke alarms are not

present, the fire burns longer before detection and does more damage (USFA/NFDC, 2007).

Multi-family homes and group homes fall under stricter guidelines and are usually required to

upgrade their facilities as life safety codes improve.

       The purpose of this research is to improve safety and survival rates of adults, age 65 and

older in owner occupied homes, from fire through early detection and notification. People aged

65 and older have a much higher fire death rate than the average population. The national

average is 13.6 deaths per million population and, as noted in Figure 3, the rate beginning at age

65 is 22.8 per million population on up to 63.4 per million for those senior citizens age 85 and

older. In 2004, the risk of dying from a fire rose considerably above the national average and

continued increasing for the older population groups (United States Fire Administration/National

Fire Data Center [USFA/NFDC], 2007).

       If the stated purpose is achieved, then the elderly citizens residing in the jurisdiction of

SKF&R will face significantly better chances of surviving a fire in their homes from the moment

that current safety compliance is achieved. The very limited data available on smoke alarm usage

among older adults indicates that they may not be receiving the full benefit provided by current
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code requirements for operational smoke alarms that are interconnected and located on every

floor and in bedrooms (Geiman & Gottuk, 2006). Interconnected alarms can be defined as "the

operation of one smoke alarm shall cause all smoke alarms to sound at the same time"

(International Code Council [ICC], 2009). The odds of survivability will increase even with

partial compliance. This benefit will affect the rest of the community as so many people suffer

following a fire. Neighbors are traumatized, families are devastated, and support agencies are

impacted from insurance companies to the Red Cross. SKF&R will be able to respond more

effectively and early to fires that are dangerous to the firefighters. With smaller fires, firefighters

will face a safer working environment and they will be able to go back in service quicker

allowing them to respond to other calls for service.

       This applied research project is relevant to the course work included in the curriculum of

the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program, Strategies for Community Risk

Reduction (SCRR), R274 course (National Fire Academy [NFA], 2008). The course is intended

to create a national focus on community risk reduction. The role of an Executive Fire Officer is

critical to the success of mitigating risk within the communities that are served. This risk needs

to be reduced through efforts such as the research of this ARP.

       This effort relates to and supports the United States Fire Administration’s (USFA)

operational objective to reduce loss of life from fire-related hazards. Specifically, the USFA

identified five strategies to help meet that objective. Strategy number three says the USFA will

pursue programs focused on reducing the loss of life of those persons age 65 and older (United

States Fire Administration [USFA], 2001).
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                                          Literature review

       The purpose of this literature review is to study and summarize the findings of other

research and to analyze data from the area of smoke alarm and life safety compliance. The

literature review for this applied research project focuses on older citizens age 65 and higher.

Specifically, it will look at smoke alarm technology and system designs that have come into

place since alarms and systems were originally installed in homes of the elderly. The ability or

inability, as well as the necessity, to upgrade to current life safety standards will determine the

extent of the problem and ultimately the affect on future instances of death or injury from fire.

       As baby boomers begin to retire, the demographic profile in the United States is expected

to change. As the population of the elderly increases, an increase in fire deaths and injuries

among older adults is very likely (USFA/NFDC, 2007).

       Locating the elderly population can take some work. The International Society of Fire

Service Instructors recommends a myriad of sources to assist fire departments in accomplishing

this task. They suggest church groups, local and state agencies on aging, senior citizen centers,

social service agencies, nutrition sites, health departments, and the American Association of

Retired Persons (AARP) (International Society of Fire Service Instructors [ISFSI], 1989).

       The Tulare Fire Prevention Bureau looked to local media in an effort to obtain a database

of elderly citizens in their community. They used radio stations, television stations, and

newspaper by way of public service announcements and found an overwhelming response

through these methods (Bridges, 1980).

       Homes that were built since 1980 have a higher likelihood to have hard wired smoke

alarms according to a study done by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in 1992.
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The study looked at homes in the general population, not just homes that have had fires. 76% of

single family homes had battery-only powered smoke alarms (Smith, 1995).

       Battery powered smoke alarms have no doubt contributed to massive reduction in fire

deaths in single family homes since their common acceptance and use in the 1970s. However,

the issue of battery failure or removal is increasingly a problem related to smoke alarms not

working when they are needed to alert occupants. Perdell (2008) sees a beginning to the end for

battery powered smoke alarms. New, hard wired, smoke alarms are not only more reliable, but

they come with the added technological advancements such as interconnecting via radio signal,

remote deactivation, and the ability to transmit alarm signals over the power line itself.

       Lithium batteries have been endorsed in recent years as a long term power source for

smoke alarms. The batteries are supposed to last 10 years at which time the smoke alarm itself

should be replaced. However, after early battery failure reports were analyzed and improved

upon, it may still be too early to evaluate the success of this power source (Ahrens, 2007).

       The basis for current requirements in NFPA 72, the National Fire Alarm Code, is that

survivability is high in residential fires when working smoke alarms are present on every level of

a home and in close proximity to the bedrooms. Survivability is even higher when smoke alarms

are installed inside the bedrooms (Mniszewski, 2008).

       Of the dwellings surveyed in the National Smoke Detector Project, 26% had less than one

smoke alarm per level of the home. The National Smoke Detector Project estimates that this is

the case in 43% of dwellings. Additionally, when sleeping areas on the same floor are widely

distributed, there may not be adequate coverage (Hall, 2007). The location of a smoke alarm has

the greatest impact on reducing alerting time when the smoke alarms is located in the room of

fire origin (Bukowski et al., 2008).
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       In 1989, NFPA 74 Standard for the Installation, Maintenance and Use of Household Fire

Warning Equipment, required newly constructed residential homes to have interconnected

(hardwired) smoke alarms on every level of the home and outside the sleeping areas. In 1993

NFPA 74 was renamed to NFPA 72, the National Fire Alarm Code. NFPA 72 required the

installation of hardwired smoke alarms inside bedrooms or sleeping areas. With all life safety

areas of the dwelling protected, a fire occurring in a remote section of the home wound activate

an audible alarm in all of the installed smoke alarms. NFPA 74 did not require existing homes to

be retrofitted with interconnected smoke alarms, because of the high cost it would place on

homeowners and because most of the dwellings at the time were constructed before

interconnected smoke alarms systems were required (U.S. Consumer Product Safety

Commission [CPSC], 2005). While interconnection of smoke detectors is an appropriate goal

and reasonable objective for the future, this will not be the majority practice for a long time

(NFPA 72 Technical Committee, 2008, p. 51).

       The NFPA recommends replacing a smoke alarm if it is more than 10 years old. Aging

smoke alarms do not operate as efficiently and often become a cause for nuisance alarms. Early

field studies on smoke alarm dependability confirmed the precision of this approximation,

restated as a 3% failure rate per year. This means a very small fraction of home smoke alarms

will fail almost immediately, and 3% will fail by the end of the first year and at 15 years, the

chances are almost 50% that the alarm has failed. After 30 years, nearly all of the alarms will

have failed. In 10 years there is roughly a 30% probability of failure before replacement. This

time frame seemed to balance safety and cost in a way that made sense to the responsible

technical committees and was therefore suggested as the most favorable replacement cycle

(National Fire Prevention Association [NFPA], 2001).
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       About half of the smoke alarms that were found inoperable during the National Smoke

Detector Project were more than 10 years old. This was past the 10 year replacement age

currently recommended (Smith, 1993). Smoke alarms are recognized as a mechanical device that

is susceptible to wearing out just like any mechanical device. The drawback to a smoke alarm

however, is that its failure, when unexpected, can be deadly (Ahrens, 2007).

       Many homes have smoke detectors that are not tested on a regular basis. The Smoke

Detector Project found more than half had tested their detectors in the past month compared to

16% found in the early 1980s (Hall & Groeneman, 1983).

       The NFPA recommends testing smoke alarms at least monthly using the test button or an

approved smoke substitute and cleaning the devices in accordance with the manufacturers'

instructions. Regular monthly testing will help discover alarm failure as well as a dead or

missing battery. Replacing alarms after 10 years protects against the accumulated chance of

failure, but monthly testing is still the first, best means of making sure smoke alarms work

(NFPA, 2001).

       Section 11.7.8.2 of the 2007 edition of NFPA 72 gives commercial monitoring stations

the ability to verify residential alarm signals prior to contacting response or dispatch agencies if

that verification process can be done in less than 90 seconds (National Fire Protection

Association [NFPA], 2007).

       Current building codes have requirements for smoke alarms in residential dwellings that

specify a smoke alarm on every level of a dwelling, outside sleeping areas (typical a hall), and in

all of the bedrooms. Bedroom alarms are generally required only in new dwellings. The

requirement for each bedroom was enacted in the mid-1990s based on the need for alerting

bedroom occupants when the bedroom door is closed. Proposals to extend the requirement for
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bedroom smoke alarms to existing dwellings have lacked validation on life safety grounds when

compared to the high cost (Bukowski et al., 2008).

       Mniszewski (2008) says that NFPA studies show 19% of smoke alarms in United States

homes do not work. Home owner related power source problems are the leading cause of failure.

Power supply problems such as poor or inefficient wiring, tripped circuit breakers, and simply

missing or dead batteries lead to this high percentage.

       Two-thirds of the smoke alarms in reported residential fires were powered by only a

battery. More than half (54%) of the reported failure in smoke alarms were attributed to

homeowners having missing or disconnected batteries. Dead batteries accounted for 19% of the

failures. Hardwired smoke alarms existed in 29% of residential fires but contributed to only 7%

of the failure rate (Ahrens, 2007).

       Most smoke alarms are photoelectric or ionization types with many manufacturers now

combining the two types (dual source). Photoelectric smoke alarms use a light source in a

sensing chamber and triggers an alarm when smoke enters the chamber and reflects light onto a

sensor. Ionization smoke alarms use a small amount of radioactive material between two

electrically charged plates. These ions flow between the plates and an alarm is triggered when

that flow is disrupted. The most popular type however, continues to be ionization due to the

lower cost. Different physics involving the operation of each type of smoke alarm makes the

ionization alarms more sensitive to flaming fire with smaller smoke particles and photoelectric

works better on smoldering fire with large particles.

       In a study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), dual alarms

with equivalent or more sensitive settings performed better than individual photoelectric or

ionization smoke alarms during tests of high flame and high smoke scenarios. Additionally,
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because of the dual nature, sensitivities of each sensor factor can be reduced and ultimately

reduce nuisance alarms (Cleary, 2009).

       Units equipped with only one type of sensor are not nearly as effective as those with dual

sensors. Ionization models are the most popular and good at detecting a fire with high flames.

However, they are slower at detecting smoky fires. Photoelectric smoke detectors are more

effective with smoky fires, but less effective at detecting a fire with high flames. Therefore, the

best smoke detector has a combination ionization/photoelectric sensor that can detect both

flaming and smoldering fires quickly and efficiently (Consumersearch, 2008).

       Mniszewski (2008) states that while many smoke alarms that are more than 10 years old

are in excellent shape, aging circuits and degrading components can cause failure. He adds that

NFPA studies show 95% of homes in the United States have smoke alarms, but 19% are non-

operational. Smoke alarms are prone to many faults over time that renders the smoke alarms non-

operational even if they appear to have proper power. The sensing chamber can be dirty,

resulting in failure or increased sensitivity, leading to false alarms. “As the population of

installed units ages without proper replacement, the frequency of these operational issues during

fire incidents increase” (Mniszewski, 2008, p. 11).

       A significant number (at least 20%) of the smoke alarms found in the dwellings of senior

citizens were over 10 years old and in need of replacement per industry and NFPA

recommendations (Geiman & Gottuk, 2006).

       Manufacturers' and national standards require occupants to test their smoke alarms at

least once per month to make sure the device is working. This test simulates the change in sensor

level that would most likely occur during an actual event. Regular cleaning intervals are also
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recommended (Mniszewski, 2008). Older adults may be more likely to have maintenance issues

with their smoke alarms than the general population (Geiman & Gottuk, 2006).

       Many homes need more than one smoke alarm for complete protection. Fire that occurs

out of range of a smoke alarm may never sound an alert to occupants. Homes with too few or

poorly placed smoke alarms decrease the chance that the signal or alarm will be heard by all of

the occupants (Smith, 1993).

       A study of 691 dwellings in Iowa found, in 2000, that smoke alarms did not meet NFPA

standards in 57% of the dwellings that had smoke alarms. There was not a smoke alarm on each

level in 85% of the dwellings and only 22% of the dwellings met each NFPA requirement (Peek-

Asa et al., 2005). It is estimated that up to 90% of dwellings with elderly occupants do not have

smoke alarms in bedrooms (Geiman & Gottuk, 2006).

       It is estimated that up to 90% of dwellings with elderly occupants do not have smoke that

are interconnected to each other. With interconnected smoke alarms, when one smoke alarm

activates, all other smoke alarms will sound an alarm. This allows the sound levels of the smoke

alarms to alert other occupants of the dwelling of a fire, even if the fire is on the other end of the

dwelling or on another level of the dwelling. The earlier that an occupant is alerted to a fire, the

more time is available to escape the dwelling than if a wait would occur for another smoke

alarms closer to the occupant to alert them (Geiman & Gottuk, 2006).

       For the most complex fire escape scenarios (with occupants asleep in all of the bedrooms)

with the most sensitive populations (elderly adults), most fire scenarios may not provide

sufficient time for escape regardless of the smoke alarm type. Therefore, enough time to escape

would be accomplished only if dwellings meet the advice of fire safety educators by developing
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a fire escape plan and using interconnected smoke alarms to provide an audible alarm in each

bedroom and on each level of the dwelling (Bukowski et al., 2008).

         One of the reasons that led to the requirement for interconnected smoke alarms was the

number of failures in battery powered smoke alarms. In 1992, the CPSC surveyed consumers to

determine how many working smoke alarms they had. This study showed that 20% of the

dwellings with at least one smoke alarm had a smoke alarm that did not work (CPSC, 2005).

         The Fire Department of New York (FDNY) used funds from their FDNY Foundation to

implement a city-wide smoke alarm campaign. The Foundation received a Department of

Homeland Security Fire Safety Grant to support the media promotion. Since many public

education programs are not funded as a regular budget item, the FDNY Foundation steps up to

provide that funding as a stakeholder and true believer that the cause can saves lives (WNYF,

2008).

         Public education has traditionally been a role of the fire service. However, help from

other agencies is fast becoming a welcome trend in many communities (Taylor, 2001). The

American Red Cross is an example of an agency that has taken an active role in partnering with

the fire service and other public service agencies. They designed a program to aid senior citizens

by increasing the use of home smoke alarms through an inexpensive and easily followed plan.

Additionally, Red Cross volunteers help install smoke alarms within 24 hours of a request.

Funding for this program typically is provided partially by the Red Cross, private partners such

as Wal-Mart, and from local fire service sources.

         The Quincy Fire Department organized a smoke alarm project with other civic groups in

their community. This program was call Project S.A.F.E. standing for Smoke Alarm for Elders.

This program used volunteers to install as many smoke alarms as necessary to make the home
                                                                    Smoke Alarm Compliance            19


code compliant. Volunteers installed at least one smoke alarm in 81% of the homes that were

part of the project (Ahrens & Gamache, 1997).

        The Atlanta Fire Rescue Department (AFRD) took an approach of obtaining small grants

to establish the Atlanta Smoke Alarm Program (ASAP). This is a community based program

organized to make sure Atlanta citizens have smoke alarms in their homes. AFRD uses Atlanta

firefighters to canvas neighborhoods to distribute and install the detectors. Their feeling is that

installation is the secret to a successful program (Ham, 2005).

        The Center for Disease Control (CDC) sponsored an installation research study (this

study included households with an adult age 65 or older) that compared the success between a

group that received a voucher for a free smoke alarm versus a group that had a smoke alarm

installed for them. When the programs were evaluated, the voucher group had a working smoke

alarm in 65% of the homes and the installation group had a working smoke alarm in 90% of the

homes. It was also noted that 47% of the voucher homes did not redeem their vouchers (Harvey

et al., 2004).

        The fire service in the United States has proudly become a leader in public fire education

since the release of America Burning in 1973. The fire service today continues to expand its

influence in the community by providing more than fire education. As the fire service role has

expanded into life safety, so have the educational topics. With wide spread topical issues, comes

the need for firefighters to participate in life safety opportunities within their communities

(Powell, 2002).

        Smoke alarm programs are built with a target audience and a program goal in mind. A

program can have a goal of increasing the number of homes with working smoke alarms or the

number of older adult homes with smoke detectors. Research indicates that complete programs
                                                                 Smoke Alarm Compliance           20


tend to be more successful. This includes installation, education, follow-up, and evaluation. With

many agencies promoting smoke alarm programs, organization and coordination is an important

factor to consider. Studies show that problems exist in programs that simply provide education

only or only distribute alarms. Programs must continue to refine and develop through leadership

and an ongoing commitment to success (Public/Private Fire Safety Council, 2006).

       In summary, these findings influenced this project by detailing the emergence of an aging

population and aging smoke alarms. It has become clear that the population of people age 65 and

older is increasing and with it, a growing number of older homes with outdated smoke alarm

equipment and systems. This review found a great deal of evidence on the new technologies and

the new and improved layouts and requirements within newer dwellings that significantly

increase the chance of survival in the event of a fire.

       The literature review provided research pertinent to the data needs in determining what

data to collect from the SKF&R communities of Federal Way and Des Moines. This information

detailed many recurring problems being faced across the nation and told the author that this was

indeed a likely problem in SKF&R's communities. It also demonstrated that successful

campaigns can make great strides towards correcting the problem.

                                             Procedures

       The first step in this ARP process was to perform a literature review of existing research

and documentation on the subjects of determining the growth of the elderly population and how

to locate and establishing contact with senior citizens, current smoke alarm code standards and

requirements and recommendations, the level of non-compliance with current smoke alarm codes

in a community, and the elements of other successful fire department smoke alarm programs.
                                                                 Smoke Alarm Compliance         21


       Literature review of issues related to this ARP was conducted at the Learning Resource

Center (LRC) located at the National Fire Academy (NFA) in Emmitsburg Maryland, SKF&R

training division located at Station 68 in Federal Way Washington, Pierce County Public Library

located in Bonney Lake Washington, King County Public Library located in Federal Way

Washington, and the internet to determine what research had been done to date on the growth of

the elderly population and their aging homes, prior known problems with smoke alarms and

current technological advances with smoke alarms, and documented success with smoke alarm

programs. The researcher used the electronic catalogs at each library and searched by using

keywords “elderly,” “smoke alarm," "smoke detector," "life safety codes," "smoke alarm

program," and various combinations of these to locate journal articles, magazine articles, books,

research papers, and other reference materials.

       A comprehensive search for related subject material was conducted via the internet.

Several search engines were used. These included www.google.com, yahoo.com, altavista.com,

and bing.com. The researcher sought reference materials from the fire service, public safety

education sources, and private industry.

       The first part of this research was to determine and confirm the observed problem within

the service area of SKF&R to create an atmosphere of support for the purpose involved in this

research. One-on-one and group interviews, and discussion sessions, were held with Fire Chief

Al Church, Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Plumlee, Deputy Chief of Training Vic Pennington,

Deputy Chief Mike Knorr, Deputy Chief Steve Trackwell, shift Battalion Chief Chuck Kahler,

shift Battalion Chief Rick Chaney, and shift Battalion Chief Bob Stinnett. These chiefs comprise

the administrative team at SKF&R. Each member of this team has a minimum of 30 years of

service in the community with the most senior chief having 37 years of service. These meetings
                                                                   Smoke Alarm Compliance          22


occurred at weekly staff meetings of administrative chief officers, in the operations office of the

battalion chiefs, and in the private offices of chief officers when they were available to meet. The

chief officers were asked if they were seeing an increase in response to elderly persons living in

single family homes and, if so, what they attributed that to. They were asked if they were seeing

any concerns with smoke alarm coverage in the homes of elderly. If they had concerns, then they

were asked if they had ideas on how to improve coverage and how they thought this could be

accomplished.

       One-on-one and group discussions were held with members of the Board of Fire

Commissioners for SKF&R to garner support for the research and to determine the perceptions

of the elderly in SKF&R's communities, level of supports for elderly service programs, and the

level of support for smoke alarm programs. They were asked if they saw the elderly population

as a significant population to serve in the community. If they did, then they were asked if they

supported senior service programs provided by the fire department and how they would support

an elderly smoke alarm program financially. All six commissioners gave input, ideas and

suggestions for providing better service to the senior citizens of SKF&R's service areas.

       One-on-one and group discussions were then held with the three public education

officers. This group included public educators Kendra Kay, Kirsti Weaver, and Donna Conner.

These meetings occurred at semi-weekly staff meetings of the public education division, and in

the public education offices. The public education officers were asked if they were seeing an

increase in service needs to elderly persons living in their own homes and, if so, what they

attributed that to. They were asked if they were seeing any concerns with smoke alarm coverage

in the homes of elderly and if they were installing more alarms in these homes. If they had

concerns, then they were asked if they had ideas on how they thought this could be accomplished
                                                                    Smoke Alarm Compliance         23


both program wise and financially. The public educators were also asked to compile a list of

elderly group contact points in both the communities of Des Moines and Federal Way.

       Discussions were held with the Des Moines senior services director Sue Padden. The

author discussed the issue of smoke alarms in the homes of citizens and Director Padden offered

the author the chance to come meet with a group of elderly in Des Moines where the author

discussed the current issues, educated the members on current issues regarding smoke alarms,

and issued the manual survey detailed in question three to them.

       Discussions were held with Don Harper and Wayne Corey of the Elder Watch program.

This program deals entirely with the elderly in Des Moines and on a growing basis in Federal

Way. This group has strong ties to the elder population and has a growing database. The group

was beneficial in developing and distributing the smoke alarm survey from question three on

their web site and in their direct contact with citizens at weekend safety fairs and events.

       To answer research question number one, research was performed on this target

population of people age 65 and older using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Instructions on

how to prepare a profile of this demographic were obtained from the R274 - Strategies for

Community Risk Reduction pre-course materials (National Fire Academy [NFA], 2008). The

Census Bureau's American FactFinder was used to compile the for this demographic profile that

included population, distribution, housing, and growth trends (U.S. Census Bureau, 2006). The

data was analyzed for the City of Des Moines and the City of Federal Way. The unincorporated

areas of King County and the contract for service areas of SKF&R were not analyzed due to the

limited areas that they comprise and the difficulty of identifying exact boundary lines.

       The limitations of this procedure include the fact that the chief level officers have limited

contact with the public on a day-to-day basis at this stage of their careers, so most of their input
                                                                     Smoke Alarm Compliance         24


is based on many years, and previous years, experience in the field and within the community.

The fire commissioners are focused on the financial aspect with regard to supporting a program.

Without accurate research and data to produce cost, it is difficult to determine how much

financial support could be given. The public educators are limited by the number of seniors that

they see in the field as to their observations. Finally, the population research is limited to the data

set obtained early and mid decade.

       To answer research question number two, technical expertise was sought from recognized

experts within the ranks of SKF&R. Discussions occurred with Fire Prevention specialists,

Deputy Chief Ron Biesold who is also the designated Fire Marshal and Captain Tom Raymond,

the Assistant Fire Marshal. Additional information was obtained from the City of Federal Way

Building Official Lee Bailey.

        The information obtained from these discussions was confirmed and collaborated by

review of the 2006 International Residential Code, the 2005 Federal Way City Code, and the

2007 Edition of NFPA 72 otherwise known as the National Fire Alarm Code.

       The location, type, and power source components were noted and compiled in the results

section. These elements of smoke alarm installation were determined to be the relevant elements

that could be addressed with respect to solving the defined problem of this ARP. There are very

few limitations in this procedure. The codes are specified very deliberately with the only limiting

factor being the ability of the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) to determine modifications.

The AHJ is defined by the NFPA as "The organization, office, or individual responsible for

enforcing: the requirements of a code or standard, or for approving equipment, an installation, or

a procedure" (NFPA, 2007, p. 15).
                                                                    Smoke Alarm Compliance          25


          To answer research question number three, the researcher developed a survey to

determine the correct target demographic and current compliance in that target group. The

original draft survey looked to gather data that could be used for this ARP and for future SKF&R

programs. The ARP is focusing on citizens age 65 and older in owner occupied dwellings, yet it

was determined that data should be collected on all citizens in the SKF&R service area for future

study and program implementation. This also decreased the limitations and biases that may have

occurred by restricting those who complete the survey to just those within the target group.

However, when the surveys are to be tabulated, only those fitting the target audience will be used

for this ARP when answering research question number three and providing the results.

          In May of 2009, the author emailed out a first draft of the survey to fire commissioner

Mark Frietas, fire commissioner Bill Gates, fire commissioner James Fossos, fire commissioner

Roger Hershey, fire commissioner Mark Thompson, former fire commissioner Dean Gullickson,

Fire Chief Al Church, Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Plumlee, Deputy Chief of Training Vic

Pennington, Deputy Chief Mike Knorr, Deputy Chief Steve Trackwell, shift Battalion Chief

Chuck Kahler, shift Battalion Chief Rick Chaney, and shift Battalion Chief Bob Stinnett.

Additionally, a hard copy was sent to fire commissioner Jerry Harris as he does not have internet

access.

          The survey was reviewed and revamped due to several recommendations by the focus

group outlined above. The original survey gave the occupant the option of removing their smoke

alarm from its base to read a possible date and type on the back of the unit. While this was an

option, upon further review and comments from those looking at the document, it was decided to

remove this option as there was a belief that seniors may attempt to retrieve this information and

risk injury in doing so as many smoke alarms require a ladder and tools to access the unit.
                                                                  Smoke Alarm Compliance          26


       The final draft of the survey had 14 questions, covering three areas of data needs. The

survey questions were designed to identify proper target group demographics, identify the

current status of compliance to recommended replacement and maintenance, and to identify the

current state of compliance to today's recognized standards (Appendix A). The term smoke

detector was used in the survey as it was determined form the focus group that is a more

commonly recognizable term for a smoke alarm in the SKF&R region.

       Question one of the survey asked if there was any occupant of the home aged 65 or older

as this was the target population age factor. Question two asked if the home was located in the

city limits of Federal Way or Des Moines as these were the two geographic areas served by

SKF&R that could easily be measured for sample size calculations. Question three asked what

type of home the survey responder lived in as owner occupied homes were the focus group.

Outside this group would be rental homes. Question four asked what the age of the home was

and question five asked the number of stories of the home. Question six simply asked if there

were any smoke detectors in the home and question seven asked how many. These questions

were data collection issues that were thought to correlate to the compliance issues.

       Questions eight through 11 would focus on the current smoke alarms in the responders

home and their comparison to current recommended practices for replacement and maintenance.

Question eight asked if the normal power source was a battery, hardwired to the electrical

system, or both. Question nine asked what type of smoke detector the responder had. The two

common types were noted including ionization and photoelectric as well as a dual sensor model.

The option for I don't know was also offered as people commonly may not know what type they

had. Question 10 asked if they performed the recommended monthly testing procedure. Question
                                                                  Smoke Alarm Compliance         27


11 asked if they knew how old their smoke detector was with the option of choosing new, 10

years old or less, or more than 10 years old, and I don't know.

       Questions 12 through 14 asked about current code compliance. Question 12 asked about

the issue of smoke alarm placement inside sleeping rooms. Question 13 asked about smoke

detector placement on each floor of the home. Question 14 asked if their smoke detectors would

all sound an alarm if just one of them activated. This was the simple explanation with regard to

the definition of interconnected smoke alarms.

       Question eights through 11 dealing with detector type, age, and maintenance, and

questions 12 through 14 were formatted to analyze statistically the answers based upon a random

population sampling of the target audience. The responses were filtered based upon having

someone in the home age 65 and older, living in the City of Federal Way or the City of Des

Moines, and the home being an owner occupied dwelling. The surveys (questions eight through

14) that remained after the filter was applied were tabulated based upon a sample size calculation

based on the normal distribution (Raosoft, n.d.). The margin of error was 10%=E with a

confidence level of 90%=c. The response distribution was 50%=r. The population size N was

4684 based upon the owner occupied housing statistics for people age 65 and older from the

2000 population census. Using x=Z(c/100)²r(100-r), n=Nx/((N-1)E²+x), and E=Sqrt[(N-n)x/n(N-

1)], produced a sample size n of 67 responses. This was the number of returned surveys that

would be set as a goal for the research.

       Some limitations were encountered with respect to the survey. The electronic survey

would require internet access and not all elderly persons have this capability. With regard to the

manual survey, this would limit access to those elderly that are involved in their communities or

use senior services. Those senior citizens that are homebound did not have access to the survey
                                                                 Smoke Alarm Compliance         28


unless it was provided by a friend who had access. The sample size calculation was based upon a

population generated in 2000 which may be higher at this time as the population of people age

65 and older has increased based upon the 2005-2007 data (U.S. Census Bureau, 2006).

However, even at 7000 or more owner occupied homes of people age 65 and older, the sample

size maximum would be n=68.

       The final survey was approved by the focus group and then put together as a manual form

(Appendix A) and as an electronic form using the Survey Monkey web site. This web site has

become a consistent tool for many EFOP students looking to gather data. The survey was posted

electronically on the SKF&R web site, the Elder Watch web site, and the Federal Way Chamber

of Commerce website. It was made available in hard copy at the public education office for

members of the public to walk in and obtain the survey.

       The manual form was advertised and distributed in several venues (Appendix B). It was

presented to senior groups in the City of Federal Way and the City of Des Moines at their senior

service centers. It was presented and distributed at community service group meetings that

included the Des Moines morning Kiwanis, the Federal Way Morning Kiwanis, the Greater

Federal Way Noon Kiwanis, the Federal Way Rotary, and the Federal Way Lions Club. It was

also marketed by hand at the Des Moines Farmer's Market and at the Federal Way Farmer's

Market.

       The information from the survey was then compiled from the various sources, both

electronic and manual forms. The manual forms were loaded and imputed into the Survey

Monkey database to take advantage of the analysis features of that program. The data was

tabulated and presented in the results section of this ARP.
                                                                  Smoke Alarm Compliance         29


       To answer research question number four, a simple questionnaire was developed to

measure the elements of a successful program from other fire departments. The researcher

developed this questionnaire through conversations with SKF&R public educators Kendra Kay,

Kirsti Weaver, and Donna Conner. Additional elements were gleaned from literature review that

touted successful programs elsewhere in the world. The measurements identified were good

funding, good community support, installing the detectors versus just giving them away, good

public relations and advertising, using on-duty or off-duty firefighters in the program, and doing

the program on an on-going basis. The questionnaire would also just measure the elements of a

successful program and not the elements from unsuccessful programs. The questionnaire would

ask the responder if their successful program involved the elderly, then would they share the

program with the researcher.

       In August of 2009, the author emailed out the questionnaire to public fire educators in

Washington State via a contact list database of 20 persons from his personal files. The

questionnaire was designed as an electronic form using the Survey Monkey web site (Appendix

C). This web site has become a consistent tool for many EFOP students looking to gather data.

The questionnaire was posted electronically on the National Society of Executive Fire Officers

(NSEFO) web site with an invitation to complete the questionnaire sent to 681 members of the

NSEFO.

       The information from the questionnaire was then compiled from the electronic form. The

Survey Monkey database allowed analysis of the responses. The data was tabulated and

presented in the results section of this ARP.

       Data was limited in this research by only inquiring from those members in the

researcher’s local database and from only those who were members of the NSEFO. There also
                                                                 Smoke Alarm Compliance        30


could be multiple members of the NSEFO from the same fire department. If was believed that

sufficient data would be found from these sources and that detailed nationwide response would

be too costly.

                                             Results

       Through descriptive research, the researcher found considerable information to help

answer the four research questions. Information found through descriptive research methods

provided considerable information and data for each of the questions posed.

       Research found the extent of the target population of owner occupied homes of adults age

65 and older, detailing population and dwelling statistics. Research using American FactFinder

on the U.S. Census Bureau's web site detailed the population details for people age 65 and older

in the City of Federal Way and the City of Des Moines along with the numbers found in the

entire United States (Table 1). The number of people age 65 and older living in the City of

Federal Way as of the 2000 census was 6,366 which comprised 7.6% of the total population of

83,259 as compared to 12.4% of the U.S. population. In the 2005-2007 American Community

Survey 3-Year Estimates data profile, Federal Way showed an increase to 8,348 persons who

comprised 9.8% of their population. The number of people age 65 and older living in the City of

Des Moines as of the 2000 census was 4,347 which comprised 14.9% of the total population of

29,267 as compared to 12.4% of the U.S. population. In the 2005-2007 American Community

Survey 3-Year Estimates data profile, Des Moines showed an increase to 5,262 persons age 65

and over which comprised 18.1% of their population.

       The number of owner occupied housing for people age 65 and older residing in the City

of Federal Way as of the 2000 census was 3,022 which comprised 73.4% of the total number of

occupied housing unit for people age 65 and older. The number of owner occupied housing units
                                                                   Smoke Alarm Compliance         31


for people age 65 and older residing in the City of Des Moines as of the 2000 census was 1,662

which comprised 81.6% of the total number of occupied housing unit for people age 65 and

older.

         The age of owner occupied homes in SKF&R shows a significant pre-1980s period of

construction (Table 2). Federal Way is a much newer community with 46.4% of the homes built

in or after1980 according to the 2005-2007 American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates data

profile. This was a 5.1% increase from the 2000 census. Federal Way shows 45% of the homes

built in the 1960s and 1970s according to the 2005-2007 data while only 8.6% were built pre-

1960.

         The Des Moines data shows only a moderate change in data from 2000 to the 2005-2007

American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates data profile. Homes built in or after 1980

number at 27.5% while homes built in the 1960s and 1970s number at 45.3%. The significant

difference between Federal Way and Des Moines is the number homes built pre-1960. Des

Moines has 27.2% of the homes built during this time frame versus 8.6% in Federal Way. Totals

for SKF&R at the time of the 2006 merger were 41.3% built post 1979, 45.1% built in the 1960s

and 1970s, and 13.6% built pre-1960.

         In 2000, the fire district was serving only the City of Federal Way with an age 65 and

older population of owner occupied housing at 7.6%. With the merger of the City of Des Moines

into SKF&R, the age 65 and older population of owner occupied housing jumped to 12.1%. The

age of homes served by SKF&R also showed a significant change from the pre-merger number.

While the middle range of homes built in the 1960s and 1970s remained the same, homes built

post 1979 declined 5% and homes built pre-1960 grew by 5%. These numbers support the

increased numbers of people age 65 and older and the increase in older homes that SKF&R has
                                                                   Smoke Alarm Compliance         32


seen in the three years since the fire district merger. This is a combined increase of an aging

population in Federal Way and the influx of those senior citizens from the City of Des Moines

where owner occupied housing of people age 65 and older is 8.2% higher than Federal Way

according to the 2000 census (Table 1). Housing numbers for owner occupied units with people

age 65 and older was not available in the 2005-2007 American Community Survey 3-Year

Estimates data profile.

       Research answered what the current smoke alarm compliance standards are in dwellings,

and if these standards are retroactive. Per the 2007 edition of NFPA 72, entitled the National

Fire Alarm Code, detection devices are required in all sleeping rooms and guest rooms as well as

outside each sleeping area which is commonly a hallway. It also requires a detection device on

every level of a dwelling unit. The National Fire Alarm Code specifies that operation of an alarm

shall cause all alarms to sound. Finally, the National Fire Alarm Code specifies that if a battery

source is permitted, it must be non-chargeable and non-replaceable and capable of operating the

device for 10 years (National Fire Protection Association [NFPA], 2007). The National Fire

Alarm Code and other NFPA codes are standards only and typically address current building and

occupant safety (Table 3).

       The 2006 International Residential Code is the compliance standard used within the

jurisdiction of SKF&R. It states that household fire alarm systems shall be installed in

accordance with NFPA 72. It states that smoke alarms shall be installed in each sleeping room

and outside of each sleeping room in the vicinity of the bedrooms. It states that a device shall be

installed on each additional story of the dwelling and if more than one smoke alarm is required,

then activation of one alarm will activate all of the alarms (International Code Council [ICC],

2009). This International Residential Code requires primary power from the building wiring,
                                                                   Smoke Alarm Compliance       33


with battery backup, in new construction and requires upgrading to current standards if a permit

is required in the course of altering an existing dwelling (Table 3).

       The 2005 Federal Way City Code also requires maintenance tests of smoke alarms, at

intervals of not less than once a month, and new battery installation whenever a low battery

signal occurs (City of Federal Way, 2005). It does not require upgrading to current requirements

unless a bedroom is added or the upgrade exceeds $20,000 (Table 3).

       Research via a survey found the extent of non-compliance in single family homes of

adults age 65 and older with respect to smoke alarms. The survey received 111 responses. After

the surveys were filtered for only homes with a person age 65 or older, and an owner occupied

home in either the City of Federal Way or the City of Des Moines, 71 responses qualified for the

analysis. This exceeded the 67 needed for the identified sample size.

Demographics

       Questions one through seven outlined the demographics for this target population (Table

4). All 71 (100.0%) responses had a person age 65 or older living in the home. Forty three of the

homes were in the City of Federal Way and 28 were in the City of Des Moines. All 71 homes

were owner occupied with 91.6% being a site-constructed single family home, 4.2% were

manufactured homes, and 4.2% were condominiums. There were no (0.0%) new homes (less

than a year old), 2.8% were one to 10 years old, 22.6% were 11 to 20 years old, and 74.6% were

more than 20 years old. Over half (52.2%) of the homes were single story houses, 40.8% had

two stories, and 7.0% were three or more stories. Every home, except for one skipped response

had at least one smoke alarm with seven being the most smoke alarms reported in one home.

       These demographic results confirmed the hypothesis that people age 65 and older are

living in single family homes that are aging. Homes were more than 10 years old in 97.2% of the
                                                                  Smoke Alarm Compliance        34


cases. About half of the homes were single story and about half were multi-story. These two

components mean that original equipment smoke alarms have all passed the recommended 10

year life span and the issue of having a smoke alarm on each floor is likely in half of the homes.

Power, type, age, and maintenance

       Questions eight through 11 looked at the current smoke alarm mechanically with respect

to power source, type of sensing mechanism, age, and maintenance (Table 5). Question eight

found 70.0% of the smoke alarms had battery power, 11.4% were wired to electricity, and 17.1%

had sources of power using electricity for main power and a battery for backup power. One

person did not know how their smoke alarm was powered and one person did not answer the

question.

       Question nine found that 7.2% of the smoke alarms were known to be photo-electric,

11.6% were known to be ionization, and 7.2% were dual sensor with both photo-electric and

ionization. Most people (73.9%) did not know what type of smoke alarm they had. Two persons

did not answer the question.

       With respect to age, question 10 found that none (0.0%) of the response group had a

detector less than a year old, 40.0% had smoke alarms between one and 10 years old, 52.9%

were more than 10 years old, and 7.1% did not know how old their smoke alarms were. One

person did not answer the question.

       Finally, question 11 found that 85.7% did not test their smoke alarm on a monthly basis.

Only 14.3% tested their smoke alarms on a monthly basis. One person did not answer the

question.

       These results demonstrate that because of the age of the home, most smoke alarms for

this age group are still battery powered. Newer homes may have hard-wired technology, but
                                                                  Smoke Alarm Compliance          35


retrofitting does not appear to be happening. Most people do not know what sensor type of

smoke alarm they have and do not have a way to easily identify what type they have.

Encouraging was the finding that almost half of the responders had smoke alarms less than 10

years old. This means that some of the population is replacing their smoke alarms. A problem

continues to be the monthly testing recommendation. With 85% or more not doing this, this

again supports the hypothesis that people are not meeting recommended standards. In this case,

an undiagnosed failure could mean life or death.

Comparison to Current Code

       Questions 12 through 14 took a closer look at how close this target audience is to current

code requirements (Table 6). Question 12 found that only 21.1% had smoke alarms installed in

all of the sleeping rooms leaving 78.9% of the homes without a smoke alarm installed in all of

the sleeping rooms. Question 13 found that 82.1% of the responders did have a smoke alarm

installed on each floor of the home and 17.9% did not. Four persons skipped this question.

However, if the 37 homes that were only one floor are removed from the responses, this puts the

percentage of multi-story homes having a smoke alarm on each floor at only 60.0%. Finally,

question 14 found that interconnected smoke alarms knowingly existed in only 8.6% of the

homes, 67.1% knowingly did not have interconnected smoke alarms, and 12.9% did not know if

they had interconnected smoke alarms and one person skipped the question.

       These final three questions indicate the current state of existing homes with respect to

what the current code requirements would include. To bring these homes up to current life safety

codes, 80% would need smoke alarms installed in all of the sleeping rooms, 40% of the multi-

floor homes would need additional detectors installed to provide coverage on each floor, and

two-thirds or more of the homes would need to have their smoke alarms interconnected. Roughly
                                                                   Smoke Alarm Compliance          36


three-quarters of the homes do not meet current life safety requirements. This fits the original

premise that homes of our elderly are out of compliance with recognized life safety needs and are

at risk for death and injury from fire.

       Research via a questionnaire identified the elements of successful smoke alarm

compliance programs that could be used alleviate the problem and ensure occupants are

protected from death or injury by fire. The questionnaire yielded 131 responses from a potential

pool of 701. Of the 131 responses, 67.29% (88) said they have a successful program in their

department. Those 88 responses were the source of measurement for the elements that comprise

a successful program (Table 7).

       Good funding was reported in almost half (48.3%) of the successful programs. Good

community support for the program was found in 36.8%. Installing the smoke alarms rather than

just giving them to occupants was the highest percentage (88.5%) with regard to a successful

program. Good advertising and public relations was a successful component 37.9% of the time.

Successful programs used on-duty firefighters 79.3% of the time while off-duty firefighters were

used only 10.3% of the time. Successful programs operated their programs on an on-going basis

60.9% of the time. One person whom answered that they had a successful program did not

answer this question. Twenty-six of the responders placed comments in the other category and

included various additional comments for a successful program such as: checking for smoke

alarms on every EMS call, targeting specific elderly neighborhoods, partnerships with Red Cross

and Commissioner on Aging, promoting the program at every public presentation, state funding,

summertime door knocking, using fire explorers [typically young men and women between the

ages of 14 and 20 (FireExplorers.org, n.d.)], bilingual education in schools, and Fire Corps
                                                                  Smoke Alarm Compliance         37


volunteers [Fire Corps is one of five partner programs under Citizen Corps - a FEMA program

(FireCorps.org, n.d.)].

       Of the 88 who responded that they had a successful program, 23.5% said that they had a

program specific to the elderly and 76.5% said they did not have a program specific to the

elderly. Three persons did not respond to this inquiry. Thirty-six persons with a successful smoke

alarm program offered to send the author information on their program.

                                            Discussion

       The USFA said that baby boomers are beginning to retire and the demographic profile in

the United States is expected to change by way of an increase in elderly population

(USFA/NFDC, 2007). This is very evident by the census numbers of adults age 65 and over.

Federal Way and Des Moines both show about the same total population in 2005-2007 as they

had in 2000. Yet, The data also showed an increase, in the age 65 and older populations, of 2.2%

in Federal Way and 3.2% in Des Moines with SKF&R's response area rising a significant 4.5%

during this time period mostly because of the large influx from the merger with Des Moines in

2006. These numbers confirm the premise of the ARP that the elderly population is growing

dramatically in SKF&R's primary response area.

       Home that were built since 1980 have a higher likelihood to have hard wired smoke

alarms according to a study done by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in 1992

(Smith, 1995). The census research shows that because nearly 60% of the home in SKF&R's

jurisdiction were built prior to 1980, there is a significant issue of battery powered smoke alarms

that will be faced (Table 2). The survey data shows that in SKF&R, 75% of the 65 and older

population group lives in a home over 20 years old (Table 4). Three-quarters of adults age 65 and

older are living in owner occupied homes (Table 1). People age 65 and older are less likely to
                                                                   Smoke Alarm Compliance        38


change their home residence than other age groups. Only 4.2% of this target population changed

home in 2006-2007 as compared to 17.0% of those under 65 years of age (U.S. Census Bureau,

Current Housing reports, Series H150/07, 2008). It should be noted that the number shown from

the 2000 census and the 2005-2007 analysis show some minor inaccuracies as they appear to

have found a few dozen older homes in the latter search. However, the numbers are within the

margin of error specified on the U.S. Census web site.

       Using a myriad of sources to assist fire departments in accomplishing the task of reaching

out to older adults will be a wise choice and has been useful to SKF&R during the process of this

research. The ISFSI suggests using church groups, local and state agencies on aging, senior

citizen centers, social service agencies, nutrition sites, health departments, and the AARP to

develop relationships with seniors (1989). This ARP study used those groups to help focus the

original premise that a problem existed and then to help with data collection to determine the

needs of this target group. Those relationships will be maintained to assist with a

recommendation to implement a smoke alarm program as noted later in this paper.

       The Tulare Fire Prevention Bureau looked to local media in an effort to obtain a database

of elderly citizens in their community. They used radio stations, television stations, and

newspaper by way of public service announcements and found an overwhelming response

through these methods (Bridges, 1980). SKF&R is using the local newspaper and has access to

local television (City of Federal Way) to get a focused message out in the community.

       Battery powered smoke alarms have no doubt contributed to massive reduction in fire

deaths in single family homes since their common acceptance and use in the 1970s (Perdell,

2008). Lithium batteries have been endorsed in recent years as a long term power source for

smoke alarms as they may last 10 years (Ahrens, 2007). While the NFPA allows this under some
                                                                   Smoke Alarm Compliance         39


cases (NFPA, 2007), hard wired smoke alarms are more reliable. Research found that the

National Fire Alarm Code and the International Residential Code require hard wired detectors in

new construction but not retroactively unless altered construction requires a permit at a later date

(Table 3).

        The basis for current requirements in NFPA 72 is that survivability is high in residential

fires when working smoke alarms are present on every level of a home and in close proximity to

the bedrooms. Survivability is even higher when smoke alarms are installed inside the bedrooms

(Mniszewski, 2008). The notion that when sleeping areas on the same floor are widely

distributed, there may not be adequate coverage (Hall, 2007) creates a clear picture of need in

this case. The location of a smoke alarm has the greatest impact on reducing alerting time when

the smoke alarms is located in the room of fire origin (Bukowski et al., 2008). Research found

that the International Residential Code and the City Code of Federal Way require smoke alarms

to be installed in this manner but not retroactively unless altered construction requires a permit at

a later date (Table 3).

        In 1989, NFPA 74 Standard for the Installation, Maintenance and Use of Household Fire

Warning Equipment, required newly constructed residential homes to have interconnected

(hardwired) smoke alarms on every level of the home and outside the sleeping areas. In 1993

NFPA 74 was renamed to NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm Code and required the installation of

hardwired smoke alarms inside bedrooms or sleeping areas. With all life safety areas of the

dwelling protected, a fire occurring in a remote section of the home wound activate an audible

alarm in all of the installed smoke alarms. Public education messages have long taught the

occupants to sleep with their bedroom doors closed and this requirement would save lives by

allowing an audible signal to be heard outside the room of fire origin. NFPA 74 did not require
                                                                   Smoke Alarm Compliance       40


existing homes to be retrofitted with interconnected smoke alarms because of the high cost.

Research found that the International Residential Code and the City Code of Federal Way

require interconnected smoke alarms in new construction but do not retroactively impose the

requirement unless altered construction requires a permit at a later date (Table 3).

       The NFPA recommends replacing a smoke alarm if it is more than 10 years old. Aging

smoke alarms do not operate as efficiently and often become a cause for nuisance alarms. Early

field studies on smoke alarm dependability confirmed the approximate failure rate at 3% per

year. A smoke alarm that is 10 years old would have roughly a 30% probability of failure if not

replaced. The 10 year replacement time frame was therefore suggested as the most favorable

replacement cycle (National Fire Prevention Association [NFPA], 2001). Smoke alarms are

recognized as a mechanical device that is susceptible to wearing out just like any mechanical

device. The drawback to a smoke alarm failure however, is that when it fails unexpectedly, it can

be deadly (Ahrens, 2007). While the NFPA recommends this practice, research found that the

National Fire Alarm Code, the International Fire Code, and the City Code of Federal Way do

not require compliance for this recommendation.

       Too few homes have smoke alarms that are not tested on a regular basis. However,

compliance with this recommendation is improving, the Smoke Detector Project found about

half had tested their smoke alarms in the past month compared to 16% found in the early 1980s

(Hall & Groeneman, 1983). The NFPA recommends testing smoke alarms at least monthly using

the test button or an approved smoke substitute and cleaning the devices in accordance with the

manufacturers' instructions (NFPA, 2001). The National Fire Alarm Code and the International

Fire Code do not require this function. However, research found that the City Code of Federal
                                                                    Smoke Alarm Compliance         41


Way does require maintenance tests of smoke alarms at intervals of not less than once per month

(Table 3).

       Section 11.7.8.2 of the 2007 edition of NFPA 72 gives commercial monitoring stations

the ability to verify residential alarm signals prior to contacting response or dispatch agencies if

that verification process can be done in less than 90 seconds (National Fire Protection

Association [NFPA], 2007). This allowed delay in sending a response continues to be a source of

discussion as to the benefits of central station monitoring. Some areas require residential

monitoring in lieu of other fire safety factors such as a decreased water supply. However,

nuisance alarms put this avenue of protection into question. Technology continues to advance

and there may yet be answers to incorrect signal activation. When this occurs, there may be

reasonable means to provide monitoring such as powerline carrier communication through

existing home wiring.

       Proposals to extend the requirement for bedroom smoke alarms and interconnected

devices to existing dwellings has lacked validation on life safety grounds when compared to the

high cost (Bukowski et al., 2008). This would save many lives, but cost effective alternatives

need to be developed as most people in America still do not believe that a fire will ever happen

to them. While the cost may truly be minimal, it is still a cost none-the-less and people do not

want to pay if they do not have to.

       Mniszewski (2008) says that NFPA studies show 19% of smoke alarms in United States

homes do not work. Power source problems are the leading cause of failure. Two-thirds of the

smoke alarms in reported residential fires were powered by only a battery (Ahrens, 2007). The

research from this ARP indicates that 70% of the target group have battery powered smoke

alarms (Table 5). Since 75% of the target group live in homes more than 20 years old, the cost of
                                                                  Smoke Alarm Compliance         42


retrofitting older homes with hard-wired smoke alarms may be prohibitive. If that is the case,

then reliable, cost effective, battery powered smoke alarms need to be built with as many

compliance features as possible. There must also exist a means to provide a 10 year battery or a

system to guarantee replacement on annual basis.

       Most smoke alarms are photoelectric or ionization types with some now combining the

two types. The majority are ionization due to the low cost. The data found, in surveying the

target population, that 11% knew they had an ionization smoke alarm. However, almost 74% did

not know what type of smoke alarm they had. In a study by NIST, dual alarms performed better

than individual photoelectric or ionization smoke alarms. The convenience and aesthetics of a

dual alarm as opposed to separate photoelectric and ionization alarms are motivations for

consumer acceptance (Cleary, 2009). Only 7% of the target group had a dual sensor smoke

alarm. Their prevalence is still relatively new, but have become the detector type of choice

currently being installed by SKF&R when requested by the public as part of the current smoke

alarm program. This author suggests an easily identified marking be placed on the exterior,

visible surface to readily identify what type of detecting method that a smoke alarm is using.

       Dual sensor should become the norm as many studies are showing this need. Units

equipped with only one type of sensor are not nearly as effective as those with dual sensors. The

best smoke detector has a combination ionization/photoelectric sensor that can detect both

flaming and smoldering fires quickly and efficiently (Consumersearch, 2008).

       Mniszewski (2008) states that while many smoke alarms, more than 10 years old, are in

excellent shape; aging circuits and degrading components can cause failure. Smoke alarms are

prone to many faults over time that will render the smoke alarms non-operational even if they

appear to have proper power. “As the population of installed units ages without proper
                                                                    Smoke Alarm Compliance         43


replacement, the frequency of these operational issues during fire incidents increase”

(Mniszewski, 2008, p. 11). A significant number (at least 20%) of the smoke alarms found in the

dwellings of senior citizens were over 10 years old and in need of replacement per industry and

NFPA recommendations (Geiman & Gottuk, 2006). As supported in the literature review, and

confirmed in the research conducted for this ARP, nearly 60% of the smoke alarms of SKF&R

citizens are more than 10 years old (Table 5). A small population (7%) did not know how old

their smoke alarm was which is most likely an indicator that it is too old to remember. This

author suggests an easily identified date be placed on the exterior, visible surface, to readily

identify the age of manufacture for the smoke alarm.

       Manufacturers and national standards require occupants to test their smoke alarms at least

once per month to make sure the device is working. Regular cleaning intervals are also

recommended (Mniszewski, 2008). Older adults may be more likely to have maintenance issues

with their smoke alarms than the general population (Geiman & Gottuk, 2006). The data

collected during this research confirms this fact. Over 85% of older adults in SKF&R do not test

their smoke alarms at least once per month. This is a statistic that cannot be ignored by the

smoke alarm industry. Advances in technology should allow a smoke alarm to self-diagnose as

many electronic devices do in today's market. First Alert has a self-diagnostic feature, but

currently it does not do away with the recommended monthly manual testing (First Alert, n.d.).

Monthly testing is required by the City Code of Federal Way but appears to be unenforceable.

       Many homes need more than one smoke alarm for complete protection. Fire out of range

of a smoke alarm may never sound an alert to occupants. Homes with too few, or poorly placed,

smoke alarms decrease the chance that the signal or alarm will be heard by all of the occupants

(Smith, 1993). A 2000 study of 691 dwellings in Iowa found 85% of the dwellings did not have a
                                                                   Smoke Alarm Compliance          44


smoke alarm on each level (Peek-Asa et al., 2005). This data does not support this figure in the

target population in SKF&R. 82% did have a smoke alarm installed on every level of their home

(Table 6). Half (50%) of the homes surveyed were only one story. So, with the number of single

story homes removed (37), this still puts the compliance rate at 70%. The Iowa study was

performed in 2000 and, nearly 10 years later, education efforts may have turned this number

around. It was estimated in the Iowa study that up to 90% of dwellings with elderly occupants

do not have smoke alarms in bedrooms (Geiman & Gottuk, 2006). The data from this ARP

research support this number as nearly 80% of the surveyed older adults did not have smoke

alarms installed in the bedrooms.

       The topic of smoke alarms in bedrooms is an important concern; especially how it relates

to the interconnection factors discussed next. While a smoke alarm installed in a bedroom will

give a significant advantage when faced with a fire starting in the bedroom, it is more important

to be notified while you are sleeping of a fire occurring in another part of the home and at the

earliest possible time.

       It is estimated that up to 90% of dwellings with elderly occupants do not have smoke that

are interconnected to each other. The data in this research supported this percentage. Only 8%

had an interconnected home (Table 6). Over 90% either did not have, or did not know if they had

an interconnected home. The assumption was that those who did not know were probably not

interconnected. As noted previously, the earlier that an occupant is alerted to a fire, the more

time is available to escape the dwelling. If a wait would occur for another smoke alarms closer to

the occupant to alert them, then the escape time is decreased (Geiman & Gottuk, 2006).

       Advances in technological have increased the ability to assist the interconnection of

smoke alarms with other smoke alarms. Interconnection of smoke alarms can be achieved with
                                                                     Smoke Alarm Compliance            45


radio frequency wireless technologies and powerline carrier communication signals. These

emerging technologies and products will increase the ability of older adults to achieve higher

compliance with life safety code and recommendations through more affordable and readily

available means (Geiman & Gottuk, 2006).

       For the most complex fire escape scenarios (with occupants asleep in all of the bedrooms)

with the most sensitive populations (elderly adults), most fire scenarios may not provide

sufficient time for escape regardless of the smoke alarm type. Therefore, enough time to escape

would be accomplished only if dwellings meet the advice of fire safety educators by developing

a fire escape plan and using interconnected smoke alarms to provide an audible alarm in each

bedroom and on each level of the dwelling (Bukowski et al., 2008).

       Kidde has developed a battery powered smoke alarm that may be an excellent choice to

meet the needs of the 65 and older population problem in SKF&R (Kidde, n.d.). This assumes

that hard wiring a complete system is cost prohibitive. This alternative to hard wiring does not

require 10 year lithium batteries although they can be installed optionally by a user. The 10 year

life cycle is followed as Kidde has built an end of life warning signal into the unit that will alert

the user that it is time to replace the unit 10 years after the initial power is applied. The device

also interconnects with all of the other compatible devices to sound an alarm in all of the devices

should just one of them activate. This meets all of the current recommended life safety issues

except for hard wiring. It also assumes that the user will test and maintain the unit on a regular

basis. Self device testing and diagnostics are starting to become a feature is some smoke alarms

and may be a source of fixing the issue of failure to test a smoke alarm on a monthly basis.

       Ultimately, the impact of meeting life safety code compliance with respect to smoke

alarms in the owner occupied dwellings of citizens age 65 and older is one of high cost. Hard
                                                                   Smoke Alarm Compliance          46


wiring to current standards is very expensive in expert labor cost and material costs. To install a

wireless system, the labor does not require expertise and therefore may be donated. The material

costs are similar to hard wired devices. While a single device may be less than $50, the impact of

needing four to six devices makes the endeavor an expensive one to implement within an entire

region like SKF&R. The fire department and others throughout the nation have traditionally

installed one smoke alarm in each home at an often cost of less than 10 dollars. Life safety has

gone beyond the need for just one device and when combined with added technology needs

becomes more expensive even in the minimal sense.

       The Fire Department of New York (FDNY) used funds from their FDNY Foundation to

implement a city-wide smoke alarm campaign (WNYF, 2008). Half (50%) of the respondents in

the program questionnaire thought that funding was a key to a successful program (Table 7). It is

assumed by the author that this number is not higher because most program install only one

smoke alarm in each residence and are using a low cost detector. When faced with a number of

possibly $200 to properly equip a dwelling with multiple dual sensor interconnected smoke

alarms, the number of those who consider funding to be a key to a successful smoke alarm

program may be closer to 100%. A rough cost estimate in SKF&R could be computed using

4,600 owner occupied dwelling units with a person age 65 or older living in them. Assuming that

the lack of interconnectivity would mean that all of the smoke alarms would have to be replaced

in homes that do not currently have interconnectivity would mean that smoke alarms would have

to be placed in roughly 90% of the homes giving an approximate number of 4,000 homes.

Conservatively allowing for three bedrooms and a hallway in a single story home, this would

require 16,000 smoke alarms. Bulk buying may find smoke alarms for $30 a piece requiring

$480,000. Assuming again that the non-expert labor is donated or non-cost, this figure represents
                                                                   Smoke Alarm Compliance          47


the dilemma for any department that truly wants the maximum life safety benefit of a smoke

alarm program. SKF&R typically receives less than $1000 per year in donated smoke alarms

amounting to a mere 100 or so smoke alarms.

       Funding is the key to succeeding at this level. A line item budget request is unrealistic in

today's revenue struggles being faced at SKF&R. Grant funding is the best choice to obtain the

number of smoke alarms needed to complete this mission. However, a single donation is not

unprecedented. In 2009, the Department of Community Affairs received 15,000 smoke alarms

form ABC7. ABC7 is a campaign from ABC's Operation 7: Save a Life program. One of the

focuses of this program is the elderly (State of New Jersey; Department of Community Affairs

[DCA], 2009). Riley Hospital in Indianapolis used an Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG)

Fire Prevention and Safety grant (FP&S) to distribute 15,000 free battery-powered smoke

detectors in high-risk neighborhoods (FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant, n.d.).

       Public education has traditionally been a role of the fire service and a large part of an

effective smoke alarm program. However, help from other agencies is fast becoming a welcome

trend in many communities (Taylor, 2001). The Quincy Fire Department organized a smoke

alarm project with other civic groups in their community. This program was call Project S.A.F.E.

standing for Smoke Alarm for Elders. This program used volunteers to install as many smoke

alarms as necessary to make the home code compliant. Volunteers installed at least one smoke

alarm in 81% of the homes that were part of the project (Ahrens & Gamache, 1997). The

research found that 36% of the respondents believed that community support was essential for a

successful program (Table 7). A full compliance program in SKF&R would require many labor

hours. Community relationships that SKF&R has built over time would be essential in obtaining

the help needed for success. Multiple donations and support from many groups would be an ideal
                                                                    Smoke Alarm Compliance            48


mix. However, as the research indicates, community support is not required as the support may

come from an outside source or directly from a grant.

       The Atlanta Fire Rescue Department (AFRD) took an approach of obtaining small grants

to establish the Atlanta Smoke Alarm Program (ASAP). AFRD uses Atlanta firefighters to

canvas neighborhoods to distribute and install the detectors. Their feeling is that installation is

the secret to a successful program (Ham, 2005). Using firefighters was a key component in the

research gathered. 90% used firefighters either on-duty or off-duty (Table 7). The key for an

SKF&R program would be cost. On-duty firefighters would not require additional funding but

would require a significant amount of time to an already stretched work load. The key may be a

combination of labor sources. Certainly, firefighter support is a key, but cannot be the sole

source of labor.

       The idea of Atlanta Fire Rescue Department (AFRD) obtaining small grants to establish

their Atlanta Smoke Alarm Program (ASAP) is an excellent way to help fund a program (Ham,

2005). However, SKF&R does not have the staffing resources to canvas neighborhoods and

distribute and install smoke alarms. The alternative would be to use community service groups to

assist in the distribution and installation. In fact, a combination of using groups such as the

Kiwanis and then the Key club students, under adult supervision, might prove to be an excellent

collaboration. SKF&R has an excellent relationship with Scouting groups, Rotary clubs, Lion's

clubs, and many other community assistance groups.

       The Center for Disease Control (CDC) sponsored an installation research study (this

study included households with an adult age 65 or older) that compared the success between a

group that received a voucher for a free smoke alarm versus a group that had a smoke alarm

installed for them. When the programs were evaluated, the voucher group had a working smoke
                                                                  Smoke Alarm Compliance         49


alarm in 65% of the homes and the installation group had a working smoke alarm in 90% of the

homes (Harvey et al., 2004). The research supports this premise as almost 90% of the successful

programs installed the smoke alarms rather than just gave them away (Table 7). The extent of the

possible needs to reach compliance in SKF&R would most assuredly require installation as part

of the program.

       Smoke alarm programs are built with a target audience and a program goal in mind. A

program can have a goal of increasing the number of homes with working smoke alarms or the

number of older adult homes with smoke alarms. Research indicates that complete programs tend

to be more successful. Data collected as part of this ARP confirms this as respondents thought

this was an essential component 60% of the time (Table 7). This includes installation, education,

follow-up, and evaluation. With many agencies promoting smoke alarm programs, organization

and coordination is an important factor to consider. Programs must continue to refine and

develop through leadership and an ongoing commitment to success (Public/Private Fire Safety

Council, 2006). This will also be a key to long term success. With smoke alarms needing to be

replaced every 10 years, there needs to be an on-going funding source and an on-going plan for

the next wave of replacements. As this becomes a fact of life in the country, there will need to be

an educational component that sells the public on self-replacement at the appropriate time. This

may prove to be a difficult task as the smoke alarm becomes another disposable item that the

public may not perceive to benefit from every day.

                                        Recommendations

       This ARP was meant to prove the hypothesis that older adults with older homes were not

keeping up with the life safety value of improved smoke alarms giving better protection

throughout a home. The findings from research question one confirmed the extent of the target
                                                                  Smoke Alarm Compliance        50


population of citizens age 65 and older through the community served by SKF&R. It is

recommended that SKF&R take lead role in developing and maintaining a database of citizens

age 65 and older residing in owner occupied homes within the SKF&R jurisdiction through

involvement from stakeholder and community groups such as Senior Services, Elder Watch,

Meals on wheels, AARP, Kiwanis, Rotary, and the Lions Club. This database can be used for the

implementation and follow up to a smoke alarm program targeted at this population as well as

numerous other elderly programs such as fall prevention or flu vaccination.

       The following are recommendations based upon the research of this ARP:

       A smoke alarm compliance educational program for the elderly should be developed to

educate those citizens within the community about the higher level of smoke alarm coverage

available to them. Many seniors do have the financial means to make the necessary upgrades on

their own if given the correct information and resources to work from. This will take some

development work from the Public Education and Prevention divisions at SKF&R but will yield

a reduced workload for the operations division with time.

       An enhanced battery replacement program should be started immediately. Battery

replacement has always been available from SKF&R, but has not been widely emphasized.

Energizer should be approached about their free battery replacement program. This can serve as

a financial boost for the cost of batteries, but SKF&R will have to allow the time for personnel to

perform the replacement for its citizens. SKF&R should also look for the ability to install 10 year

batteries in those detectors that are currently compatible.

       SKF&R should work with the City of Federal Way and the City of Des Moines to require

full updated smoke alarm system compliance with every remodel permit rather than just those

permits that surpass the current level of $20,000. An affordable alternative would be installation
                                                                    Smoke Alarm Compliance          51


of a wireless system of interconnected smoke alarms in every sleeping room, outside of every

sleeping area, and a minimum of one on each level of a dwelling.

       SKF&R should support any design or technology advancement in smoke alarms

including end of life notification in every alarm, self testing and diagnosis, dual sensor in all

alarms, date and type stamps on the visible exterior of every alarm, and futuristic advancements

such as power line carrier monitoring directly from the power company for every home.

       For the current population of those citizens in SKF&R age 65 and older living in an

owner occupied dwelling, a smoke alarm compliance program should be developed by SKF&R.

Simply replacing existing smoke alarms will not meet the needs of the elderly. This program will

have to be extensive and costly.

       Funding will be the first key element to be addressed. SKF&R should look at national

grant funding, private funding, partnerships with public service groups, and department budgeted

support. Once funding is established, an installation and compliance process will have to be

established using the community and fire department personnel due to the size of the project.

       In summary, the recommendations are to develop a working relationship and database

with the elderly in SKF&R, develop a smoke alarm compliance educational program for the

elderly, institute a more visible battery replacement program, strengthen the code for retroactive

compliance in the Cities of Federal Way and Des Moines, support any industry advances in

technology, and design a program to address the long term problem with elderly smoke alarm

compliance in SKF&R's jurisdiction. The program will require an extensive funding and

implementation component.

       These recommendations follow the confirmation of the problem with the elderly, living

in older homes, and falling out of life safety compliance with their smoke alarms. It serves the
                                                                   Smoke Alarm Compliance        52


ARP purpose of protecting the elderly from death or injury from fire, and can ultimately correct

the ARP problem with education, support, time, funding, and commitment.

       SKF&R will face many impacts from these recommendations including financial impact

and the impact of time and effort expended by its personnel. However, SKF&R understands that

the surface investment of this magnitude will be paid back many times over through community

support back to the fire department and the safe and reduced workload for its firefighters.

       For future readers, it is recommended that their fire departments take an active role in this

target population of seniors age 65 and older. Establishing relationships with these citizens and

the social and service networks that cater to their needs will prove invaluable. These citizens are

an important part of the community and society. Research and study the needs of this population

and use what you learn to save lives.
                                                                  Smoke Alarm Compliance         53


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U.S. Census Bureau, Current Housing reports, Series H150/07. (2008, September). American

       housing survey for the united states: 2007 (U.S Department of Housing and Urban

       Development). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

U.S. Census Bureau. (2006). [American fact finder]. People and households. Retrieved from

       http://www.census.gov
                                                                Smoke Alarm Compliance        57


U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (2005, October). Consideration for installation of

       smoke alarms on residential branch circuits CPSC-ES-0504 (U.S. Consumer Product

       Safety Commission). Bethesda, MA: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

United States Fire Administration. (2001, March). Fire research agenda (Federal Emergency

       Management Agency). Emmitsburg, MD: National Fire Academy.

United States Fire Administration/National Fire Data Center. (2007, August). Fire in the united

       states 1995-2004 (FEMA FA-311). Emmitsburg, MD: FEMA Publication Center.

WNYF (2008). FDNY foundation uses DHS grant to implement city-wide smoke alarm media

       campaign. With New York Firefighters, 1st quarter, 30.
                                                                          Smoke Alarm Compliance           58


        Appendix A

                                           Smoke Detector Survey

                                                    Page 1


Smoke Detector Research                            South King Fire & Rescue


South King Fire & Rescue is currently looking for citizens willing to participate in a “smoke detectors in the
home” research project. The United States Fire Administration (USFA) is looking to use this research to
develop smoke detector programs throughout the country. Thanks for your help!


1. Is there anyone living in the home age 65 or older?

    Yes                        No


2. The home is located in:

    The City of Des Moines           The City of Federal Way


3. What type of owner occupied home is this?

    Single family built home           Manufactured home              Condominium


4. What is age of the home?

    new (less than a year)           1-10 years old            11-20 years old       more than 20 years old


5. How many stories is the home? (a daylight basement will count as a floor)(floor number if
condo)

    1          2         3 or more


6. Are there any smoke detectors (or smoke alarms) in the home?

    Yes            No


7. How many smoke detectors are in the home?
Total number of smoke detectors
                                                                           Smoke Alarm Compliance         59

                                           Appendix A - Continued

                                           Smoke Detector Survey

                                                   page 2



8. How are your smoke detectors powered?

    Battery        Hard-wired to electricity

    It uses both sources of power (hard-wired with battery backup)          I don't know


9. What type of smoke detector is it?

    Photo-electric        Ionization

    Dual sensor (both photo-electric and ionization)        I don't know


10. How old is the smoke detector?

    It is new (less than a year old)      1-10 years old     More than 10 years old        I don't know


11. Do you test the smoke detector at least once per month?

    Yes            No


12. Are there smoke detectors installed in all of the sleeping rooms?

    Yes            No


13. Is there at least one smoke detector installed on each floor of the home?

    Yes            No


14. If this smoke detector goes into alarm, do all of the other smoke detectors in the home start
sounding an alarm as well?

    yes       No        I don't know       This is the only smoke detector in the home
                                                                   Smoke Alarm Compliance         60


                                            Appendix B

                                    Flyer to SKF&R Residents

______________________________________________________________________________



                      South King Fire & Rescue
                    South King Fire & Rescue is currently looking for citizens willing to participate
                    in a “smoke detectors in the home” research project. The research project has
specific target audiences that will need data to support the research results and lead to enhanced
safety of all citizens. The United States Fire Administration and South King Fire & Rescue are
looking to use this research to develop smoke detector programs for all age groups. If you’d like
to help, please go to our Web Site at take this quick survey. Thanks for your time!


                            www.southkingfire.org
Deputy Chief Gordie Olson.
Direct link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=b7IPCCWn08FTEUXIo2op8Q_3d_3d




       Find it here
                              Smoke Alarm Compliance   61


           Appendix C

Smoke Alarm Program Questionnaire
                                                                Smoke Alarm Compliance   62


Table 1

Demographics



Population           2000           65 years+             2005-2007     65 years+

                                                          (Merger in 2006)

______________________________________________________________________________

United States        281,421,906    34,991,753 (12.4%)    298,757,310   N/A (12.5%)

Federal Way          83,259         6,366 (7.6%)          83,235        8,348 (9.8%)

Des Moines           29,267         4,347 (14.9%)         29,036        5,262 (18.1%)

Total SKF&R (*2000)83,259           6,366 (7.6%)    (2006) 112,271      13,610 (12.1%)

* Prior to merger with Des Moines



Housing Units - 65 years+           Owner Occupied

______________________________________________________________________________

Federal Way          4,117          3,022 (73.4%)         N/A           N/A

Des Moines           2,036          1,662 (81.6%)         N/A           N/A

Total SKF&R          6,153          4,684 (76.1%)         N/A           N/A

**2000 combined numbers only - no data in 2005-2007
                                                        Smoke Alarm Compliance   63


Table 2

Age of Owner Occupied Dwelling



Age of Dwelling              2000            2005-2007 (Merger in 2006)

______________________________________________________________________________

Federal Way

       built after 1979      7,308 (41.3%)         9,163 (46.4%)

       built 1960-1979       8,971 (50.7%)         8,897 (45.0%)

       built 1940-1959       1,220 (6.9%)          1,500 (7.6%)

       built prior to 1940   194 (1.1%)            197 (1.0%)

Des Moines

       built after 1979      1,791 (25.7%)         2,001 (27.5%)

       built 1960-1979       3,205 (46.0%)         3,296 (45.3%)

       built 1940-1959       1,637 (23.5%)         1,601 (22.0%)

       built prior to 1940   334 (4.8%)            378 (5.2%)

Total SKF&R                  (*2000)               (2006)

       built after 1979      7,308 (41.3%)         11,164 (41.3%)

       built 1960-1979       8,971 (50.7%)         12,193 (45.1%)

       built 1940-1959       1,220 (6.9%)          3,101 (11.5%)

       built prior to 1940   194 (1.1%)            575 (2.1%)

* Prior to merger with Des Moines
                                                                Smoke Alarm Compliance       64


Table 3

Current Code Requirements in SKF&R Jurisdiction



2007 Edition – NFPA 72: National Fire Alarm Code

       11.5.1 – Required Detection

       In all sleeping rooms and guest rooms

       Outside each separate dwelling unit sleeping area

       On every level of a dwelling unit

       11.5.2 – Required Occupant Notification

       The operation of any smoke alarm shall cause all alarms to sound

       11.5.3 – Power Supply

       A commercial power source with a secondary power source

       If a battery source is permitted, must be non-chargeable and non-replaceable and capable

of operating the device for 10 years
                                                                 Smoke Alarm Compliance           65


Table 3 - continued

Current Code Requirements in SKF&R Jurisdiction



2006 International Residential Code

       R313 – Smoke Alarms

       Household fire alarm systems installed in accordance with NFPA 72 shall be permitted.

       Installed in each sleeping room

       Outside of each sleeping room in the vicinity of the bedrooms

       Installed on each additional story of the dwelling

       If more than one smoke alarm required, then activation of one alarm will activate all of

              the alarms

       New construction requires primary power from the building wiring with battery backup

       Requires upgrade to current standards if permit required for altering an existing dwelling

______________________________________________________________________________

2005 Federal Way City Code

       Requires maintenance tests of smoke alarms at intervals of not less than once a month.

       Requires new battery installation whenever low battery signal occurs, or a minimum of

              once per year

       Does not require upgrade unless a bedroom is added or the upgrade exceeds $20,000.

______________________________________________________________________________
                                                                Smoke Alarm Compliance   66


Table 4

Smoke Detector Survey Data

          Demographics

                                                    Response:    Percentage   Count



Q1. Is there anyone living in the home age 65 or older?

Yes                                                              100.0%       71

Q2. The home is located in:

The City of Federal Way                                          60.6%        43

The City of Des Moines                                           39.4%        28

Q3. What type of owner occupied home is this?

Single family built home                                         91.6%        65

Manufactured home                                                4.2%         3

Condominium                                                      4.2%         3

Q4. What is the age of the home?

New (less than a year)                                           0.0%         0

1-10 years old                                                   2.8%         2

11-20 years old                                                  22.6%        16

More than 20 years old                                           74.6%        53

Q5. How many stories is the home?

1 story                                                          52.2%        37

2 stories                                                        40.8%        29

3 or more stories                                                7.0%         5
                                                             Smoke Alarm Compliance    67


Table 4 - Continued

Smoke Detector Survey Data

       Demographics

                                                 Response:    Percentage   Count



Q6. Are there any smoke detectors in the home?

Yes                                                           100.0%       70 (1 skipped)

Q7. How many smoke detectors are in the home total?

Answers ranged from:                                          1 though 7

______________________________________________________________________________
                                                                 Smoke Alarm Compliance    68


Table 5

Smoke Detector Survey Data

          Power, type, age, and maintenance

                                                   Response:      Percentage   Count



Q8. How are your smoke detectors powered?

Battery                                                           70.0%        49

Hard-wired to electricity                                         11.4%        8

It uses both sources of power (hard-wired with battery backup)    17.1%        12

I don’t know                                                      1.4%         1 (1 skipped)

Q9. What type of smoke detector do you have?

Photo-electric                                                    7.2%         5

Ionization                                                        11.6%        8

Dual Sensor                                                       7.2%         5

I don’t know                                                      73.9%        51 (2 skipped)

Q10. How old is your smoke detector?

It is less than a year old                                        0.0%         0

1-10 years old                                                    40.0%        28

More than 10 years old                                            52.9%        37

I don’t know                                                      7.1%         5 (1 skipped)

Q11. Do you test your smoke detector at least once per month?

Yes                                                               14.3%        10

No                                                                85.7%        60 (1 skipped)
                                                                  Smoke Alarm Compliance        69


Table 6

Smoke Detector Survey Data

       Comparison to current code

                                                     Response:      Percentage     Count



Q12. Are there smoke detectors installed in all of the sleeping rooms?

Yes                                                                 21.1%          15

No                                                                  78.9%          56

Q13. Is there at least one smoke detector installed on each floor of the house?

Yes                                                                 82.1%          55

No                                                                  17.9%          12 (4 skipped)

Q14. If the smoke detector goes into alarm, do all of the other smoke detectors in the home start

sounding an alarm as well?

Yes                                                                 8.6%           6

No                                                                  67.1%          47

I don’t know                                                        12.9%          9

This is the only smoke detector in the home                         11.4%          8 (1 skipped)

______________________________________________________________________________
                                                                 Smoke Alarm Compliance    70


Table 7

Smoke Detector Program Questionnaire Data


                                                     Response:    Percentage   Count



Q1. Do you feel that you have a successful smoke alarm program in your department?

Yes                                                               67.2%        88

No (survey completed)                                             32.8%        43



Q2. What do you think makes your program successful?

Good funding                                                      48.3%        42

Good community support                                            36.8%        32

Detectors are installed, not just given away                      88.5%        77

Good PR and advertising                                           37.9%        33

We use on-duty firefighters                                       79.3%        69

We use off-duty firefighters                                      10.3%        9

We do the program on an on-going basis                            60.9%        53



Q3. Do you have a program specific to the elderly?

Yes                                                               23.5%        20

No                                                                76.5%        65 (3 skipped)

______________________________________________________________________________
                                                    Smoke Alarm Compliance   71


Figure 1

Age Distribution in SKF&R

_____________________________________________________________________________




______________________________________________________________________

(Administration on Aging, 2008)
                                                               Smoke Alarm Compliance        72


Figure 2

Number of Persons 65+, 1900 – 2030 (number in millions)

______________________________________________________________________________




                                            YEAR

_____________________________________________________________________________

(Administration on Aging, 2008)

Note: Increments in years are uneven.

(Sources: Projections for 2010 through 2050 are from: Table 12. Projections of the Population

by Age and Sex for the United States: 2010 to 2050 (NP2008-T12), Population Division, U.S.

Census Bureau; Release Date: August 14, 2008. The source of the data for 1900 to 2000 is Table

5. Population by Age and Sex for the United States: 1900 to 2000, Part A. Number, Hobbs,

Frank and Nicole Stoops, U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000 Special Reports, Series CENSR-4,

Demographic Trends in the 20th Century. The figures for 2007 are from the Census Bureau 2007

population estimates. )
                                                               Smoke Alarm Compliance   73


Figure 3

Casualty Rates by Age (2004)

______________________________________________________________________________




______________________________________________________________________________

(USFA/NFDC, 2007)

Note: Data have been adjusted to account for unknown or unspecified ages.

Sources: National Center for Health Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau

				
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