Vision 20/20 (www.strategicfire.org) is releasing an in-depth analysis of smoke alarm and related research focusing on why smoke alarms may not be in as widespread use as previously thought. Using an extensive literature review and data gathered during a number of Vision 20/20 Assistance to Firefighter Grant funded Community Risk Reduction projects, the study, The Smoke Alarm Problem, sheds light on the problems the fire safety community faces in getting people to install and maintain enough smoke alarms to properly protect their families.
There are several issues highlighted in the study, among them:
- Smoke alarms, while perceived as important devices, are not ones which people interact with on a regular basis and are not viewed as essential to daily living as other devices may be, leading to a failure to install or maintain them.
- Consumers may be overwhelmed with the number of choices they face in selecting alarms.
- Consumers may have a difficult time understanding what it is they need among sometimes conflicting and confusion legislation, codes and standards.
- Nuisance alarms may be a significant factor in understanding why people disable alarms
- Field experience of home safety visits, especially in high-risk areas, show that the number of homes with working smoke alarms may be much lower than previously thought.
“This important topic arose out of discussions in the Vision 20/20 project about the obvious need for working smoke alarms in the United States,” said Vision 20/20 Project Manger Jim Crawford. “Richard Taylor was asked to review this problem and spent months looking over research and literature to prepare this remarkable study. It points to gaps in our understanding of why people don’t have working smoke alarms and will hopefully lead to strategies to address these root causes.”
Fire is a significant problem in the United States:
- There were 1.3 million fires in 2012
- On average, fire departments respond to a fire every 23 seconds
- Someone is injured every 32 minutes, causing 16,500 injuries
- A person is killed every 3 hours, every day, causing 2,855 deaths
- There was $12.4 billion in property damage caused by fire in 2012
A copy of the study, The Smoke Alarm Problem, can be downloaded from the Vision 20/20 web site.