Smoke Detection Catching on

Smoke Detection Catching on

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From the Publishers Desk

We don’t remember where we read this story and it is possibly apocrophal, but back in colonial days someone came up with a bright idea for what was the first automatic fire extinguishing system. The system consisted of a large barrel of water to which was attached a charge of gunpowder. The barrel was placed in the attic of a building. The automatic part occurred, of course, when heat from a fire below was “detected” by the gunpowder which promptly exploded, blew the barrel apart and sent water cascading down.

We don’t know if the system was ever used but it at least had the principles of a true detection and extinguishing system, and, if one stretches a point, the big bang provided by the gunpowder was actually an alarm for the occupants.

We got to thinking about alarm detection because, like everyone else, we have become aware of the increasing attention that is being paid to home detection systems—particularly at the federal level. Even Ralph Nader got into the act claiming that some home detection systems were dangerous to your health. He was wrong, however, as Howard Tipton of the National Fire Prevention and Control Administration pointed out.

The NFPCA is strong for the use of home detectors. And HUD requires that they be installed in all new buildings coming under its jurisdiction. Slowly, but surely, the home detector concept, as a means of saving life from fire, is catching on—and rightly so.

On page 53 of this issue, we cover the latest legislative action that requires the installation of smoke detectors—in Montgomery County, Md. What is unique about this legislation is that it mandates smoke detectors in all dwellings, and not just in new construction.

As the article states, it took a strong political commitment “to pursue the rational conclusion that if smoke detection is a necessary life-saving measure, then it must be required in all dwelling units.”

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