Smoke alarm recommendations issued by IAFC Fire and Life Safety Section

A smoke characterization study finalized earlier this year is prompting the International Association of Fire Chief’s (IAFC) Fire and Life Safety Section (FLSS) to issue recommendations to fire departments concerning the use of smoke alarms.

The study, conducted by Underwriters Laboratories and the National Fire Protection Association’s Fire Protection Research Foundation, identifies differences and advantages to the two types of alarms in detecting smoke. Both ionization and photoelectric detectors are currently marketed to the public for residential installation. FLSS recommends that dual alarms using both technologies be installed for maximum protection.

“We recognize that many departments in the United States have residential safety programs where they offer and install alarms at no charge. We suggest departments continue their programs with the alarms they have on-hand, but we recommend that they upgrade to the dual-technology devices when it’s time to restock,” said Chief Steven Westermann, IAFC President.

“Life safety is an integrated strategy. Use the information in the FLSS position paper as part of your education plan to your community. Offer this as part of a comprehensive residential fire-protection program that includes integrating family-escape plans, proper usage of smoke alarms and installation of residential sprinkler systems,” added Westermann.

FLSS presents its detailed recommendations in a position paper, which was reviewed and approved by the IAFC board of directors during their meeting in August. To view the position paper, go to

For further questions, contact FLSS staff liaison, Joelle Fishkin at or 703-537-4843.

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